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Dev Biol. 1999 Oct 1;214(1):38-45.

A retinoic acid-inducible modular protease in budding ascidians.

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  • 1Faculty of Science, Kochi University, Kochi, 780-8520, Japan.


Retinoic acid-treated mesenchyme cells of the budding ascidian Polyandrocarpa misakiensis acquire an organizer activity to induce a secondary body axis when implanted into developing buds. We identified several different mRNAs that were upregulated in the mesenchyme cells after retinoic acid treatment. We isolated a cDNA clone corresponding to one of these mRNAs. The C-terminal region of the predicted protein product is homologous to the catalytic domain of serine proteases that belong to the trypsin family. The N-terminal region contains several types of protein-protein interaction domains. We therefore named this protein tunicate retinoic acid-inducible modular protease (TRAMP). Expression of the TRAMP mRNA in mesenchyme cells during budding and its upregulation by retinoic acid were demonstrated by reverse transcription-PCR and in situ hybridization. A glutathione S-transferase-TRAMP fusion protein showed a protease activity with trypsin-like substrate specificity and stimulated proliferation of the cell line established in this species.

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