Drosophila Rho-associated kinase (Drok) links Frizzled-mediated planar cell polarity signaling to the actin cytoskeleton.
Frizzled (Fz) and Dishevelled (Dsh) are components of an evolutionarily conserved signaling pathway that regulates planar cell polarity. How this signaling pathway directs asymmetric cytoskeletal reorganization and polarized cell morphology remains unknown. Here, we show that Drosophila Rho-associated kinase (Drok) works downstream of Fz/Dsh to mediate a branch of the planar polarity pathway involved in ommatidial rotation in the eye and in restricting actin bundle formation to a single site in developing wing cells. The primary output of Drok signaling is regulating the phosphorylation of nonmuscle myosin regulatory light chain, and hence the activity of myosin II. Drosophila myosin VIIA, the homolog of the human Usher Syndrome 1B gene, also functions in conjunction with this newly defined portion of the Fz/Dsh signaling pathway to regulate the actin cytoskeleton.