B) Drosophila projects: The function of Cornichon proteins in Drosophila
Vesicular export of proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum is a highly conserved process in all eukaryotic cells. The efficiency of this process is often mediated by cargo receptors, which regulate uptake of cargo proteins into vesicles. Drosophila Cornichon, for example, is the founding member of a conserved family of cargo receptors and has been our research interest due to its function in establishing the dorsoventral polarity in the oocyte.
However more recently, vertebrate Cornichon proteins have been shown to be involved in the export of Glutamate receptors crucial for neuronal transmission in the brain, as well as G protein coupled receptors which also exert neuronal functions, raising the question: Do Drosophila Cornichon proteins possess neuronal functions via export of similar cargoes?
To answer this question, we study the two fly cornichon genes: cornichon (cni) and cornichon-related (cnir). Strikingly, our investigations reveal that cnir mutant flies show behavioral alterations potentially associated with neuronal mis-regulation, hinting towards a functional conservation with its vertebrate counterparts. Currently, we employ genetic and biochemical means to support those observations and identify specific cargoes of both Drosophila Cornichon proteins.