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Dev Biol. 2005 Sep 1;285(1):156-68.

BMP-3 is a novel inhibitor of both activin and BMP-4 signaling in Xenopus embryos.

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Department of Oral and Developmental Biology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, 188 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


In Xenopus, the biological effects of BMP-3 oppose those of ventralizing BMPs, but the mechanism for this antagonism remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that BMP-3 is a dorso-anteriorizing factor in Xenopus embryos that interferes with both activin and BMP signaling. BMP-3 acts by binding to ActRIIB, the common type II receptor for these proteins. Once BMP-3 binds to ActRIIB, it cannot be competed off by excess ligand making a receptor complex that is unable to activate R-Smads and transduce signal. Consistent with a model where BMP-3 interferes with activin and BMPs through a shared receptor, we show that overexpression of BMP-3 can only be rescued by co-injection of xActRIIB. Our results identify BMP-3 as a novel antagonist of both activin and BMPs and uncover how some of the diverse developmental processes that are regulated by both activin and BMP signaling can be modulated during embryogenesis.

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