Larval terminal cells of the Drosophila tracheal system generate extensive branched tubes, requiring a huge increase in apical membrane. We discovered that terminal cells compromised for apical membrane expansion – mTOR-vATPase axis and apical polarity mutants – were invaded by the neighboring stalk cell. The invading cell grows and branches, replacing the original single intercellular junction between stalk and terminal cell with multiple intercellular junctions. Here, we characterize disjointed, a mutation in the same phenotypic class. We find that disjointed encodes Drosophila Archease, which is required for the RNA ligase (RtcB) function that is essential for tRNA maturation and for endoplasmic reticulum stress-regulated nonconventional splicing of Xbp1 mRNA. We show that the steady-state subcellular localization of Archease is principally nuclear and dependent upon TOR-vATPase activity. In tracheal cells mutant for Rheb or vATPase loci, Archease localization shifted dramatically from nucleus to cytoplasm. Further, we found that blocking tRNA maturation by knockdown of tRNAseZ also induced compensatory branching. Taken together, these data suggest that the TOR-vATPase axis promotes apical membrane growth in part through nuclear localization of Archease, where Archease is required for tRNA maturation.

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