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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Jul 1;90(13):6004-8.

Drosophila transforming growth factor beta superfamily proteins induce endochondral bone formation in mammals.

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  • 1Creative BioMolecules, Inc., Hopkinton, MA 01748.


Both decapentaplegic (dpp) protein and 60A protein have been implicated in pattern formation during Drosophila melanogaster embryogenesis. Within the C-terminal domain, dpp and 60A are similar to human bone morphogenetic protein 2 (75% identity) and human osteogenic protein 1 (70% identity), respectively. Both recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein 2 and recombinant human osteogenic protein 1 have been shown to induce bone formation in vivo and to restore large diaphyseal segmental defects in various animal models. We examined whether the Drosophila proteins, dpp and 60A, have the capacity to induce bone formation in mammals by using the rat subcutaneous bone induction model. Highly purified recombinant dpp and 60A induced the formation of cartilage, bone, and bone marrow in mammals, as determined by histological observations and by measurements of the specific activity of alkaline phosphatase and calcium content of the implants, thereby demonstrating that related proteins from phylogenetically distant species are capable of inducing bone formation in mammals when placed in sites where progenitor cells are available.

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