Developmental function of Nm23/awd: a mediator of endocytosis
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The metastasis suppressor gene Nm23 is highly conserved from yeast to human, implicating a critical developmental function. Studies in cultured mammalian cells have identified several potential functions, but many have not been directly verified in vivo. Here, we summarize the studies on the Drosophila homolog of the Nm23 gene, named abnormalwingdiscs (awd), which shares 78% amino acid identity with the human Nm23-H1 and H2 isoforms. These studies confirmed that awd gene encodes a nucleoside diphosphate kinase, and provided strong evidence of a role for awd in regulating cell differentiation and motility via regulation of growth factor receptor signaling. The latter function is mainly mediated by control of endocytosis. This review provides a historical account of the discovery and subsequent analyses of the awd gene. We will also discuss the possible molecular function of the Awd protein that underlies the endocytic function.