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Dev Biol January 1, 2004; 265 (1): 155-68.

Xenopus tropicalis nodal-related gene 3 regulates BMP signaling: an essential role for the pro-region.

In vertebrates, nodal-related genes are crucial for specifying mesendodermal cell fates. Six nodal-related genes have been identified in Xenopus, but only one, nodal, has been identified in the mouse. The Xenopus nodal-related gene 3 (Xnr3), however, lacks the mesoderm-inducing activity of the other five nodal-related genes in Xenopus, and can directly induce neural tissue in animal caps by antagonizing BMP signals. In this study, we isolated three clones of the Xenopus (Silurana) tropicalis nodal-related gene 3 (Xtnr3) and analyzed their function. The Xtnr3 genes show high homology to Xnr3 and have the same activity. Southern blot and genomic PCR analyses indicate that the X. tropicalis genome has duplications in the Xtnr3 gene sequences and our three clones represent separate gene loci. We also found a partial clone of Xtnr3 that coded for the N-terminal part of its pro-region. Surprisingly, this sequence also induced neural tissue by antagonizing BMP signals, and its coded protein physically associated with BMP4 mature protein. Furthermore, we showed that the pro-region of Xnr5 has the same activity. Together, these findings indicate that the pro-region of nodal-related genes acts antagonistically towards BMP signals, which identifies a novel mechanism for the inhibition of BMP signaling.

PubMed ID: 14697360
Article link: Dev Biol

Species referenced: Xenopus
Genes referenced: acta4 actl6a ag1 bmp4 msx1 myc ncam1 nodal nodal1 nodal3.1 nodal3.2 nodal5.2 nodal5.4 odc1 tbxt ventx2.1

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