Localization and action of Dragon (repulsive guidance molecule b), a novel bone morphogenetic protein coreceptor, throughout the reproductive axis

Endocrinology. 2005 Aug;146(8):3614-21. doi: 10.1210/en.2004-1676. Epub 2005 May 12.


Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) play important roles in reproduction including primordial germ cell formation, follicular development, spermatogenesis, and FSH secretion. Dragon, a recently identified glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored member of the repulsive guidance molecule family, is also a BMP coreceptor. In the present study, we determined the tissue and cellular localization of Dragon in reproductive organs using immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. Among reproductive organs, Dragon was expressed in testis, epididymis, ovary, uterus, and pituitary. In the testis of early postnatal mice, Dragon was found in gonocytes and spermatogonia, whereas in immature testes, Dragon was only weakly expressed in spermatogonia. Interestingly, pregnant mare serum gonadotropin treatment of immature mice robustly induced Dragon production in spermatocytes. In adult testis, Dragon was found in spermatocytes and round spermatids. In the ovary, Dragon was detected exclusively within oocytes and primarily those within secondary follicles. In the pituitary, Dragon-expressing cells overlapped FSH-expressing cells. Dragon was also expressed in a number of cell lines originating from reproductive tissues including Ishikawa, Hela, LbetaT2, MCF-7, and JEG3 cells. Immunocytochemistry and gradient sucrose ultracentrifugation studies showed Dragon was localized in lipid rafts within the plasma membrane. In reproductive cell lines, Dragon expression enhanced signaling of exogenous BMP2 or BMP4. The present studies demonstrate that Dragon expression is dynamically regulated throughout the reproductive tract and that Dragon protein modulates BMP signaling in cells from reproductive tissues. The overlap between Dragon expression and the functional BMP signaling system suggests that Dragon may play a role in mammalian reproduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epididymis / physiology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Membrane Microdomains / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules / genetics*
  • Ovary / physiology
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Spermatocytes / physiology
  • Uterus / physiology


  • DRAGON protein, mouse
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • RNA, Messenger