Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) of the Philadelphia-negative class comprise polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia and primary myelofibrosis (PMF). They are associated with aberrant amounts of myeloid lineage cells in the blood, and in the case of overt PMF, with the development of myelofibrosis in the bone marrow and the failure to produce normal blood cells. These diseases are usually caused by gain-of-function mutations in the kinase JAK2. Here we use Drosophila to investigate the consequences of activation of the JAK2 ortholog in hematopoiesis. We have identified the maturing hemocytes in the lymph gland, the major hematopoietic organ in the fly, as the cell population susceptible to induce hypertrophy upon targeted overexpression of JAK. We show that JAK activates a feed-forward loop including the cytokine-like ligand Upd3 and its receptor Domeless, which are required to induce lymph gland hypertrophy. Moreover, we present evidence that p38 MAPK signalling plays a key role in this process by inducing the expression of the ligand Upd3. Interestingly, we also show that forced activation of the p38 MAPK pathway in maturing hemocytes suffices to generate hypertrophic organs and the appearance of melanotic tumours. Our results illustrate a novel pro-tumorigenic cross-talk between the p38 MAPK pathway and JAK signalling in a Drosophila model of MPNs. Based on the shared molecular mechanisms underlying MPNs in flies and humans, the interplay between Drosophila JAK and p38 signalling pathways unravelled in this work might have translational relevance for human MPNs.
- Received October 3, 2016.
- Accepted February 1, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
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