Research ArticleDevelopmental Biology

A Large Bioactive BMP Ligand with Distinct Signaling Properties Is Produced by Alternative Proconvertase Processing

Sci. Signal.  03 Apr 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 218, pp. ra28
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002549

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Ligand Size Matters

Ligands in the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) family are critical in development and have been implicated in various pathological processes. The mature BMPs are generated by processing of proproteins. Akiyama et al. identified an alternative processing site in Glass bottom boat (Gbb), the Drosophila ortholog of vertebrate BMP5, 6, and 7. Processing at this site generated a larger ligand that they called Gbb38 and that was more active over a longer range in the developing wing disc than was its smaller counterpart. Mutations in this conserved processing site in three different members of the human BMP family were associated with various human development disorders. Thus, differential processing of BMP ligands may contribute to cell- and tissue-specific responses to BMP signaling.