Summary: (from NCBI-Entrez) ..[read more]Activins are dimeric growth and differentiation factors which belong to the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) superfamily of structurally related signaling proteins. Activins signal through a heteromeric complex of receptor serine kinases which i
Sakuma et al. 2002: The signalling pathway of Nodal was investigated with the use of a Nodal-responsive assay system based on frog animal caps. Expression of dominant negative mutants of various receptors indicated that ALK4, and either ActRIIA or ActRIIB, function as type I and type II receptors for Nodal, respectively. A soluble form of Cripto lacking the COOH-terminal region interacted with Nodal but failed to mediate Nodal signalling, indicating that the native Cripto protein functions as a membrane-bound co-receptor for Nodal. Processed forms of Lefty proteins, both smaller and larger forms, inhibited Nodal signalling. Such Lefty-induced inhibition was rescued by excess ActRIIA or ActRIIB, suggesting that Lefty antagonizes Nodal signalling through competitive binding to the common receptor ActRIIA or ActRIIB. This idea was supported by the demonstration of a genetic interaction between lefty2 and ActRIIB in mouse. Behaviours of GFP-Nodal and GFP-Lefty2 proteins were also investigated in chick embryos. Both proteins could diffuse over a long distance, but the latter diffused faster than the former.
Nodal proteins have crucial roles in mesendoderm formation and left-right patterning during vertebrate development. The molecular mechanisms of signal transduction by Nodal and related ligands, however, are not fully understood. In this paper, we present biochemical and functional evidence that the orphan type I serine/threonine kinase receptor ALK7 acts as a receptor for mouse Nodal and Xenopus Nodal-related 1 (Xnr1). Receptor reconstitution experiments indicate that ALK7 collaborates with ActRIIB to confer responsiveness to Xnr1 and Nodal. Both receptors can independently bind Xnr1. In addition, Cripto, an extracellular protein genetically implicated in Nodal signaling, can independently interact with both Xnr1 and ALK7, and its expression greatly enhances the ability of ALK7 and ActRIIB to respond to Nodal ligands. The Activin receptor ALK4 is also able to mediate Nodal signaling but only in the presence of Cripto, with which it can also interact directly. A constitutively activated form of ALK7 mimics the mesendoderm-inducing activity of Xnr1 in Xenopus embryos, whereas a dominant-negative ALK7 specifically blocks the activities of Nodal and Xnr1 but has little effect on other related ligands. In contrast, a dominant-negative ALK4 blocks all mesoderm-inducing ligands tested, including Nodal, Xnr1, Xnr2, Xnr4, and Activin. In agreement with a role in Nodal signaling, ALK7 mRNA is localized to the ectodermal and organizer regions of Xenopus gastrula embryos and is expressed during early stages of mouse embryonic development. Therefore, our results indicate that both ALK4 and ALK7 can mediate signal transduction by Nodal proteins, although ALK7 appears to be a receptor more specifically dedicated to Nodal signaling Reissmann et al 2001.
Activin type IIA and IIB receptors mediate Gdf11 signaling in axial vertebral patterning.GDF11 binds to both ActRIIA and ActRIIB, and induces phosphorylation of Smad2. It is interesting to note that activin type IIA was only weakly coprecipitated with ALK4 in the absence of Gdf11, whereas IIB was coprecipitated with ALK4 regardless of Gdf11, suggesting a different binding property of IIA and IIB to ALK4 (Oh et al 2002).