Tppp3, a member of the Tubulin polymerization-promoting protein family, is an intrinsically unstructured protein that induces tubulin polymerization. We show that Tppp3 is a distinct marker in the developing musculoskeletal system. In tendons, Tppp3 is expressed in cells at the circumference of the developing tendons, likely the progenitors of connective tissues that surround tendons: the tendon sheath, epitenon, and paratenon. These tissues form an elastic sleeve around tendons and provide lubrication to minimize friction between tendons and surrounding tissues. Tppp3 is the first molecular marker of the tendon sheath, opening the door for direct examination of these tissues. Tppp3 is also expressed in forming synovial joints. The onset of Tppp3 expression in joints coincides with cavitation, representing a molecular marker that can be used to indicate this stage in joint transition in joint differentiation. In late embryonic stages, Tppp3 expression highlights other demarcation lines that surround differentiating tissues in the forelimb.
(c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.