Regulated activation of receptor tyrosine kinases depends both on the presence of the receptors at the cell surface and on the availability of their ligands. In Drosophila the torso (tor) tyrosine kinase receptor is distributed along the surface of the embryo but it is only activated at the poles by a diffusible extracellular ligand generated at each pole which is trapped by the receptor, thereby impeding further diffusion. However, it is not well understood how this signal is generated, although it is known to depend on the activity of many genes such as torso-like (tsl) and trunk (trk). To further investigate the mechanism involved in the local activation of the tor receptor we have altered the normal expression of the tsl protein by generating females in which the tsl gene is expressed in the oocyte under the control of the tor promoter rather than in the ovarian follicle cells. Analysis of the phenotypes generated by this hybrid gene and its interactions with mutations in other genes in the pathway has enabled us to further dissect the mechanism of tor receptor activation and to define more precisely the role of the different genes acting in this process.
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