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Alphabet, a Ser/Thr phosphatase of the protein phosphatase 2C family, negatively regulates RAS/MAPK signaling in Drosophila.

Baril C, Therrien M

Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer, Laboratory of Intracellular Signaling, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128 Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7.

Signal transduction through the RAS/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway depends on a diverse collection of proteins regulating positively and negatively signaling flow. We previously conducted a genetic screen in Drosophila to identify novel components of this signaling pathway. Here, we present the identification and characterization of a new gene, alphabet (alph), whose activity negatively regulates RAS/MAPK-dependent developmental processes in Drosophila and this, at a step downstream or in parallel to RAS. alph encodes a protein phosphatase 2C (PP2C) family member closely related to the mammalian PP2C alpha and beta isoforms. Interestingly, although alph gene product does not appear to be essential for viability, its elimination leads to weak but significant developmental defects reminiscent of an overactivated RAS/MAPK pathway. Consistent with this interpretation, strong genetic interactions are observed between alph alleles and mutations in bona fide components of the pathway. Together, this work identifies a PP2C of the alpha/beta subfamily as a novel negative regulator of the RAS/MAPK pathway and suggests that these evolutionarily conserved enzymes play a similar role in other metazoans. Finally, despite the relatively large size of the PP2C gene family in metazoans, this study represents only the second genetic characterization of a PP2C in these organisms.

Dev. Biol. 2006;294(1):232-45.

Pubmed ID: 16600208

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