We have identified the Drosophila transmembrane molecule kekkon 1 (kek1) as an inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and demonstrate that it acts in a negative feedback loop to modulate the activity of the EGFR tyrosine kinase. During oogenesis, kek1 is expressed in response to the Gurken/EGFR signaling pathway, and loss of kek1 activity is associated with an increase in EGFR signaling. Consistent with our loss-of-function studies, we demonstrate that ectopic overexpression of kek1 mimics a loss of EGFR activity. We show that the extracellular and transmembrane domains of Kek1 can inhibit and physically associate with the EGFR, suggesting potential models for this inhibitory mechanism.
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