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Endocrinology. 2002 May;143(5):1613-24.

Follistatin-related protein and follistatin differentially neutralize endogenous vs. exogenous activin.

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Reproductive Endocrine Unit and National Center for Infertility Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02144, USA.


Follistatin-related protein (FSRP) is a new addition to the expanding follistatin (FS)-related gene family whose members contain at least one conserved 10-cysteine follistatin domain. In contrast to other members of this family, FSRP and follistatin also share a common exon/intron domain structure, substantial primary sequence homology, and an ability to irreversibly bind activin. In this study, we further explored the hypothesis that FSRP is a functional as well as structural homologue of FS. N-terminal sequencing of recombinant FSRP revealed that signal peptide cleavage occurs within exon 1, a significant structural difference from FS, in which cleavage occurs at the exon/intron boundary. Solid-phase radioligand competition assays revealed both FS and FSRP to preferentially bind activin with the next closest TGF-beta superfamily member, bone-morphogenic protein-7, being at least 500-fold less potent. Consistent with their similar activin-binding affinities, FSRP and FS both prevented exogenous (endocrine or paracrine) activin from accessing its receptor and inducing gene transcription in bioassays. However, FS was at least 100-fold more potent than FSRP in inhibiting gene transcription and FSH release mediated by endogenously produced (autocrine) activin-A or activin-B in multiple cell systems. Finally, FSRP lacks the heparin-binding sequence found in FS, and we found that it was also unable to bind cell surface heparin sulfated proteoglycans. These findings suggest that structural differences between FSRP and FS may underlie their different neutralizating capabilities with respect to exogenous vs. endogenous activin. Taken together with our previous studies showing that activin binding is essential for FS's biological activity, the differential activities of FSRP and FS further indicate that activin binding is necessary but not sufficient to account for all of FS's actions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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