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Bioessays. 2014 Aug;36(8):741-5. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400048. Epub 2014 Jun 13.

Small proteins, big roles: the signaling protein Apela extends the complexity of developmental pathways in the early zebrafish embryo.

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Institute of Cell Biology, Center for Molecular Biology of Inflammation, M√ľnster, Germany.


The identification of molecules controlling embryonic patterning and their functional analysis has revolutionized the fields of Developmental and Cell Biology. The use of new sequence information and modern bioinformatics tools has enriched the list of proteins that could potentially play a role in regulating cell behavior and function during early development. The recent application of efficient methods for gene knockout in zebrafish has accelerated the functional analysis of many proteins, some of which have been overlooked due to their small size. Two recent publications report on the identification of one such protein and its role in zebrafish embryogenesis. The protein, currently designated Apela, was shown to act as a secreted protein whose absence adversely affected various early developmental processes. Additional signaling proteins that have been identified in one of the studies are likely to open the way to unraveling hitherto unknown developmental pathways and have the potential to provide a more comprehensive understanding of known developmental processes.


Apela; Apelin; Aplnr; GPCR; cardiogenesis; embryogenesis; gastrulation; zebrafish

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