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EMBO J. 2007 Mar 7;26(5):1211-20. Epub 2007 Feb 15.

Rhomboid cleaves Star to regulate the levels of secreted Spitz.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


Intracellular trafficking of the precursor of Spitz (Spi), the major Drosophila EGF receptor (EGFR) ligand, is facilitated by the chaperone Star, a type II transmembrane protein. This study identifies a novel mechanism for modulating the activity of Star, thereby influencing the levels of active Spi ligand produced. We demonstrate that Star can efficiently traffic Spi even when present at sub-stoichiometric levels, and that in Drosophila S(2)R(+) cells, Spi is trafficked from the endoplasmic reticulum to the late endosome compartment, also enriched for Rhomboid, an intramembrane protease. Rhomboid, which cleaves the Spi precursor, is now shown to also cleave Star within its transmembrane domain both in cell culture and in flies, expanding the repertoire of known Rhomboid substrates to include both type I and type II transmembrane proteins. Cleavage of Star restricts the amount of Spi that is trafficked, and may explain the exceptional dosage sensitivity of the Star locus in flies.

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