Research Projects

Research Projects


MACPF – (Membrane Attack Complex/Perforin-like)

MACPF gene function in Drosophila development

(In collaboration with Professor James Whisstock, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology)

The Drosophila torso-like gene is the only fly member of the Membrane Attack Complex / Perforin-like (MACPF) protein superfamily, which include pore forming toxins that play key roles in vertebrate immunity, often by forming pores in membranes and lysing cells. However some MACPF proteins, such as Tsl, play a role outside immunity and intriguingly appear to be essential for developmental processes.

Tsl is maternally expressed and secreted by a subpopulation of follicle cells at the anterior and posterior regions of the maturing oocyte, where it is proposed it functions to permit proteolytic cleavage of the ligand for the Torso receptor tyrosine kinase, ensuring Torso signalling only in these regions and, in consequence, the development of appropriate anterior and posterior structures.
However, the mechanism of action of Tsl in this process is not known. Tsl also has other roles in Drosophila, as our studies have shown that it is zygotically expressed in a complex and dynamic pattern during embryonic development, including in a subset of the central nervous system.