Ma X, Chen Y, Zhang S, Xu W, Shao Y, Yang Y, Li W, Li M, Xue L.
Both cell polarity and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activity are essential to the maintenance of tissue homeostasis, and disruption of either is commonly seen in cancer progression. Despite the established connection between loss-of-cell polarity and JNK activation, much less is known about the molecular mechanism by which aberrant cell polarity induces JNK-mediated cell migration and tumor invasion. Here we show results from a genetic screen using an in vivo invasion model via knocking down cell polarity gene in Drosophila wing discs, and identify Rho1-Wnd signaling as an important molecular link that mediates loss-of-cell polarity-triggered JNK activation and cell invasion. We show that Wallenda (Wnd), a protein kinase of the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase family, by forming a complex with the GTPase Rho1, is both necessary and sufficient for Rho1-induced JNK-dependent cell invasion, MMP1 activation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Furthermore, Wnd promotes cell proliferation and tissue growth through wingless production when apoptosis is inhibited by p35. Finally, Wnd shows oncogenic cooperation with Ras(V12) to trigger tumor growth in eye discs and causes invasion into the ventral nerve cord. Together, our data not only provides a novel mechanistic insight on how cell polarity loss contributes to cell invasion, but also highlights the value of the Drosophila model system to explore human cancer biology.