Precise control of epithelial tube size is critical for organ function, yet the molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, we examine the roles of cell growth and a highly conserved organ growth regulatory pathway in controlling the dimensions of the Drosophila tracheal (airway) system, a well-characterized system for investigating epithelial tube morphogenesis. We find that tracheal tube-size is regulated in unexpected ways by the transcription factor Yorkie (Yki, homolog of mammalian YAP and TAZ) and the Salvador/Warts/Hippo (SWH) kinase pathway. Yki activity typically promotes cell division, inhibits apoptosis, and can promote cell growth. However, reducing Yki activity in developing embryos increases rather than decreases the length of the major tracheal tubes, the dorsal trunks (DTs). Similarly, reduction of Hippo pathway activity, which antagonizes Yki, shortens tracheal DTs. yki mutations do not alter DT cell volume or cell number, indicating that Yki and the Hippo pathway regulate cell shape and apical surface area, but not volume. Yki does not appear to act through known tracheal pathways of apical extracellular matrix, septate junctions (SJs), basolateral or tubular polarity. Instead, the Hippo pathway and Yki appear to act downstream or in parallel to SJs because a double mutant combination of an upstream Hippo pathway activator, kibra, and the SJ component sinu have the short tracheal phenotype of a kibra mutant. We demonstrate that the critical target of Yki in tube size control is Drosophila Inhibitor of Apoptosis 1 (DIAP1), which in turn antagonizes the Drosophila effector caspase, Ice. Strikingly, there is no change in tracheal cell number in DIAP1 or Ice mutants, thus epithelial tube size regulation defines new non-apoptotic roles for Yki, DIAP1 and Ice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)