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Development. 2005 Feb;132(3):591-602. Epub 2005 Jan 5.

XPACE4 is a localized pro-protein convertase required for mesoderm induction and the cleavage of specific TGFbeta proteins in Xenopus development.

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  • 1Division of Developmental Biology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Research Foundation, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.


XPACE4 is a member of the subtilisin/kexin family of pro-protein convertases. It cleaves many pro-proteins to release their active proteins, including members of the TGFbeta family of signaling molecules. Studies in mouse suggest it may have important roles in regulating embryonic tissue specification. Here, we examine the role of XPACE4 in Xenopus development and make three novel observations: first, XPACE4 is stored as maternal mRNA localized to the mitochondrial cloud and vegetal hemisphere of the oocyte; second, it is required for the endogenous mesoderm inducing activity of vegetal cells before gastrulation; and third, it has substrate-specific activity, cleaving Xnr1, Xnr2, Xnr3 and Vg1, but not Xnr5, Derriere or ActivinB pro-proteins. We conclude that maternal XPACE4 plays an important role in embryonic patterning by regulating the production of a subset of active mature TGFbeta proteins in specific sites.

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