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J Cell Sci. 2011 Jan 1;124(Pt 1):47-56. doi: 10.1242/jcs.076331. Epub 2010 Nov 30.

Functional convergence of signalling by GPI-anchored and anchorless forms of a salamander protein implicated in limb regeneration.

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  • 1Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.


The GPI-anchor is an established determinant of molecular localisation and various functional roles have been attributed to it. The newt GPI-anchored three-finger protein (TFP) Prod1 is an important regulator of cell behaviour during limb regeneration, but it is unclear how it signals to the interior of the cell. Prod1 was expressed by transfection in cultured newt limb cells and activated transcription and expression of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) by a pathway involving ligand-independent activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signalling and phosphorylation of extracellular regulated kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2). This was dependent on the presence of the GPI-anchor and critical residues in the α-helical region of the protein. Interestingly, Prod1 in the axolotl, a salamander species that also regenerates its limbs, was shown to activate ERK1/2 signalling and MMP9 transcription despite being anchorless, and both newt and axolotl Prod1 co-immunoprecipitated with the newt EGFR after transfection. The substitution of the axolotl helical region activated a secreted, anchorless version of the newt molecule. The activity of the newt molecule cannot therefore depend on a unique property conferred by the anchor. Prod1 is a salamander-specific TFP and its interaction with the phylogenetically conserved EGFR has implications for our view of regeneration as an evolutionary variable.

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