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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 May 26;106(21):8561-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812178106. Epub 2009 May 8.

Role of dimerization and substrate exclusion in the regulation of bone morphogenetic protein-1 and mammalian tolloid.

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  • 1Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, United Kingdom.


The bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-1/tolloid metalloproteinases are evolutionarily conserved enzymes that are fundamental to dorsal-ventral patterning and tissue morphogenesis. The lack of knowledge regarding how these proteinases recognize and cleave their substrates represents a major hurdle to understanding tissue assembly and embryonic patterning. Although BMP-1 and mammalian tolloid (mTLD) are splice variants, it is puzzling why BMP-1, which lacks 3 of the 7 noncatalytic domains present in all other family members, is the most effective proteinase. Using a combination of single-particle electron microscopy, small-angle X-ray scattering, and other biophysical measurements in solution, we show that mTLD, but not BMP-1, forms a calcium-ion-dependent dimer under physiological conditions. Using a domain deletion approach, we provide evidence that EGF2, which is absent in BMP-1, is critical to the formation of the dimer. Based on a combination of structural and functional data, we propose that mTLD activity is regulated by a substrate exclusion mechanism. These results provide a mechanistic insight into how alternative splicing of the Bmp1 gene produces 2 proteinases with differing biological activities and have broad implications for regulation of BMP-1/mTLD and related proteinases during BMP signaling and tissue assembly.

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