Versatility in signalling: multiple responses to EGF receptor activation during Drosophila oogenesis

The Drosophila epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is active in different tissues and is involved in diverse processes such as patterning of the embryonic ectoderm, growth and differentiation of imaginal discs and cell survival. During oogenesis, the EGFR is expressed in the somatic follicle cells that surround individual oocyte nurse cell complexes. In response to germline signals, the follicle cells differentiate in a complex pattern, which in turn leads to the establishment of the egg axes. Two recent reports have shown that the strategies used to pattern posterior follicle cells are different from those used to pattern dorsal follicle cells. In posterior follicle cells, EGFR activity is translated into an on off response, whereas, in dorsal follicle cells, patterning mechanisms are initiated and refined by feedback that modulates receptor activity over time.