stumps, a Drosophila gene required for fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-directed migrations of tracheal and mesodermal cells.
Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) bind to FGF receptors, transmembrane tyrosine kinases that activate mitogenic, motogenic, and differentiative responses in different tissues. While there has been substantial progress in elucidating the Ras-MAP kinase pathway that mediates the differentiative responses, the signal transduction pathways that lead to directed cell migrations are not well defined. Here we describe a Drosophila gene called stumps that is required for FGF-dependent migrations of tracheal and mesodermal cells. These migrations are controlled by different FGF ligands and receptors, and they occur by different cellular mechanisms: the tracheal migrations occur as part of an epithelium whereas the mesodermal migrations are fibroblast-like. In the stumps mutant, tracheal cells fail to move out from the epithelial sacs, and only rudimentary tracheal branches form. Mesodermal cells fail in their dorsal migrations after gastrulation. The stumps mutation does not block all FGF signaling effects in these tissues: both random cell migrations and Ras-MAP kinase-mediated induction of FGF-specific effector genes occurred upon ectopic expression of the ligand or upon expression of a constitutively activated Ras protein in the migrating cells. The results suggest that stumps function promotes FGF-directed cell migrations, either by potentiating the FGF signaling process or by coupling the signal to the cellular machinery required for directed cell movement.