Cell-to-cell communication mediates a plethora of cellular decisions and behaviors that are crucial for the correct and robust development of multicellular organisms. Many of these signals are encoded in secreted hormones or growth factors that bind to and activate cell surface receptors, to transmit the cue intracellularly. One of the major superfamilies of cell surface receptors are the receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). For nearly half a century RTKs have been the focus of intensive study due to their ability to alter fundamental aspects of cell biology, such as cell proliferation, growth, and shape, and because of their central importance in diseases such as cancer. Studies in model organisms such a Drosophila melanogaster have proved invaluable for identifying new conserved RTK pathway components, delineating their contributions, and for the discovery of conserved mechanisms that control RTK-signaling events. Here we provide a brief overview of the RTK superfamily and the general mechanisms used in their regulation. We further highlight the functions of several RTKs that govern distinct cell-fate decisions in Drosophila and explore how their activities are developmentally controlled.
- Cell fate
- Cell signaling
- Drosophila melanogaster
- Growth factor
- Receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)