Nodal stability determines signaling range

Curr Biol. 2005 Jan 11;15(1):31-6. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2004.12.062.


Secreted TGFbeta proteins of the Nodal family pattern the vertebrate body axes and induce mesoderm and endoderm . Nodal proteins can act as morphogens , but the mechanisms regulating their activity and signaling range are poorly understood. In particular, it has been unclear how inefficient processing or rapid turnover of the Nodal protein influences autocrine and paracrine signaling properties . Here, we evaluate the role of Nodal processing and stability in tissue culture and zebrafish embryos. Removal of the pro domain potentiates autocrine signaling but reduces Nodal stability and signaling range. Insertion of an N-glycosylation site present in several related TGFbeta proteins increases the stability of mature Nodal. The stabilized form of Nodal acts at a longer range than the wild-type form. These results suggest that increased proteolytic maturation of Nodal potentiates autocrine signaling, whereas increased Nodal stability extends paracrine signaling.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Autocrine Communication / physiology*
  • Body Patterning / physiology*
  • COS Cells
  • Cell Line
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • DNA Primers
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis
  • Nodal Protein
  • Paracrine Communication / physiology*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Transfection
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*
  • Zebrafish


  • DNA Primers
  • NODAL protein, human
  • Nodal Protein
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta