Regulated expression of FLRT genes implies a functional role in the regulation of FGF signalling during mouse development

Dev Biol. 2006 Sep 1;297(1):14-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2006.04.004. Epub 2006 Apr 21.


Within the mammalian genome, there are many multimember gene families that encode membrane proteins with extracellular leucine rich repeats which are thought to act as cell adhesion or signalling molecules. We previously showed that the members of the NLRR gene family are expressed in a developmentally restricted manner in the mouse with NLRR-1 being expressed in the developing myotome. The FLRT gene family shows a similar genomic layout and predicted protein secondary structure to the NLRRs so we analysed expression of the three FLRT genes during mouse development. FLRTs are glycosylated membrane proteins expressed at the cell surface which localise in a homophilic manner to cell-cell contacts expressing the focal adhesion marker vinculin. Each member of the FLRT family has a distinct, highly regulated expression pattern, as was seen for the NLRR family. FLRT3 has a provocative expression pattern during somite development being expressed in regions of the somite where muscle precursor cells migrate from the dermomyotome and move into the myotome, and later in myotomal precursors destined to migrate towards their final destination, for example, those that form the ventral body wall. FLRT3 is also expressed at the midbrain/hindbrain boundary and in the apical ectodermal ridge, regions where FGF signalling is known to be important, suggesting that the role for FLRT3 in FGF signalling identified in Xenopus is conserved in mammals. FLRT1 is expressed at brain compartmental boundaries and FLRT2 is expressed in a subset of the sclerotome, adjacent to the region that forms the syndetome, suggesting that interaction with FGF signalling may be a general property of FLRT proteins. We confirmed this by showing that all FLRTs can interact with FGFR1 and FLRTs can be induced by the activation of FGF signalling by FGF-2. We conclude that FLRT proteins act as regulators of FGF signalling, being induced by the signal and then able to interact with the signalling receptor, in many tissues during mouse embryogenesis. This process may, in part, be dependent on homophilic intercellular interactions between FLRT molecules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Brain / embryology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Extremities / embryology
  • Extremities / physiology
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / embryology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family
  • Organ Specificity
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1 / genetics
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1 / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Signal Transduction


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • FLRT1 protein, mouse
  • FLRT2 protein, mouse
  • FLRT3 protein, mouse
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors
  • Fgfr1 protein, mouse
  • Receptor, Fibroblast Growth Factor, Type 1