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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jun 10;286(23):20970-6. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.237669. Epub 2011 Apr 25.

Potential relation of aberrant proteolysis of human protein tyrosine kinase 7 (PTK7) chuzhoi by membrane type 1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) to congenital defects.

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Cancer Research Center, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


Membrane PTK7 pseudo-kinase plays an essential role in planar cell polarity and the non-canonical Wnt pathway in vertebrates. Recently, a new N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea-induced mutant named chuzhoi (chz) was isolated in mice. chz embryos have severe birth defects, including a defective neural tube, defective heart and lung development, and a shortened anterior-posterior body axis. The chz mutation was mapped to the Ala-Asn-Pro tripeptide insertion into the junction region between the fifth and the sixth Ig-like domains of PTK7. Unexpectedly, chz reduced membrane localization of the PTK7 protein. We hypothesized and then proved that the chz mutation caused an insertion of an additional membrane type 1 matrix metalloproteinase cleavage site in PTK7 and that the resulting aberrant proteolysis of chz affected the migratory parameters of the cells. It is likely that aberrations in the membrane type 1 matrix metalloproteinase/PTK7 axis are detrimental to cell movements that shape the body plan and that chz represents a novel model system for increasing our understanding of the role of proteolysis in developmental pathologies, including congenital defects.

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