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PLoS One. 2010 Sep 23;5(9):e12846. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012846.

Binding between Crossveinless-2 and Chordin von Willebrand factor type C domains promotes BMP signaling by blocking Chordin activity.

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Institute for Developmental Biology, Cologne Biocenter, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany.



Crossveinless-2 (CV2) is an extracellular BMP modulator protein of the Chordin family, which can either enhance or inhibit BMP activity. CV2 binds to BMP2 via subdomain 1 of the first of its five N-terminal von Willebrand factor type C domains (VWC1). Previous studies showed that this BMP binding is required for the anti-, but not for the pro-BMP effect of CV2. More recently, it was shown that CV2 can also bind to the BMP inhibitor Chordin. However, it remained unclear which domains mediate this binding, and whether it accounts for an anti- or pro-BMP effect.


Here we report that a composite interface of CV2 consisting of subdomain 2 of VWC1 and of VWC2-4, which are dispensable for BMP binding, binds to the VWC2 domain of Chordin. Functional data obtained in zebrafish embryos indicate that this binding of Chordin is required for CV2's pro-BMP effect, which actually is an anti-Chordin effect and, at least to a large extent, independent of Tolloid-mediated Chordin degradation. We further demonstrate that CV2 mutant versions that per se are incapable of BMP binding can attenuate the Chordin/BMP interaction.


We have physically dissected the anti- and pro-BMP effects of CV2. Its anti-BMP effect is obtained by binding to BMP via subdomain1 of the VWC1 domain, a binding that occurs in competition with Chordin. In contrast, its pro-BMP effect is achieved by direct binding to Chordin via subdomain 2 of VWC1 and VWC2-4. This binding seems to induce conformational changes within the Chordin protein that weaken Chordin's affinity to BMP. We propose that in ternary Chordin-CV2-BMP complexes, both BMP and Chordin are directly associated with CV2, whereas Chordin is pushed away from BMP, ensuring that BMPs can be more easily delivered to their receptors.

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