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Dev Biol. 1999 Dec 1;216(1):195-209.

Teneurins: a novel family of neuronal cell surface proteins in vertebrates, homologous to the Drosophila pair-rule gene product Ten-m.

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Friedrich Miescher Institute, Basel, CH-4002, Switzerland.


We have characterized chicken teneurin-1 and teneurin-2, two homologues of the Drosophila pair-rule gene product Ten-m and Drosophila Ten-a. The high degree of conservation between the vertebrate and invertebrate proteins suggests that these belong to a novel family. We propose to name the vertebrate members of this family teneurins, because of their predominant expression in the nervous system. The expression of teneurin-1 and -2 was investigated by in situ hybridization. We show that teneurin-1 and -2 are expressed by distinct populations of neurons during the time of axonal growth. The most prominent site of expression of chicken teneurins is the developing visual system. Recombinant teneurin-2 was expressed to assay its molecular and functional properties. We show that it is a type II transmembrane protein, which can be released from the cell surface by proteolytic cleavage at a furin site. The expression of teneurin-2 in neuronal cells led to a significant increase in the number of filopodia and to the formation of enlarged growth cones. The expression pattern of teneurins in the developing nervous system and the ability of teneurin-2 to reorganize the cellular morphology indicate that these proteins may have an important function in the formation of neuronal connections.

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