Bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP-4), a member of the TGF-beta family, in early embryos of Xenopus laevis: analysis of mesoderm inducing activity

Mech Dev. 1991 Mar;33(3):191-9. doi: 10.1016/0925-4773(91)90027-4.


We have screened a Xenopus ovary cDNA library using a synthetic oligonucleotide derived from that part of the inhibin beta A sequence, which is highly conserved within the TGF-beta family. Out of several clones yielding autoradiographic signals four turned out to represent Xenopus counterparts to the human bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP-4). Each two of the four sequences are nearly identical and probably account for different alleles whereas the two pairs showing 5% divergence may have arisen by genome duplication in this tetraploid species. The amino acid sequence of the Xenopus protein is 80% homologous to the human sequence showing no single exchange within the last 100 amino acids at the C-terminus. This region, which constitutes the main part of the mature, biologically active protein, also exhibits substantial homologies to other representatives of the TGF-beta family, especially to the Drosophila DPPC protein. Transfection of COS-1 cells with the Xenopus BMP-4 sequence under control of the CMV-promoter leads to the secretion of a protein which exhibits mesoderm inducing activity when tested with animal cap explants from Xenopus blastula stage embryos.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • DNA / genetics
  • Growth Substances / genetics*
  • Mesoderm / physiology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Proteins / genetics*
  • Proteins / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics*
  • Xenopus laevis / embryology


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Growth Substances
  • Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • DNA