TSPAN12 Is a Norrin Co-receptor that Amplifies Frizzled4 Ligand Selectivity and Signaling

Cell Rep. 2017 Jun 27;19(13):2809-2822. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.06.004.


Accessory proteins in Frizzled (FZD) receptor complexes are thought to determine ligand selectivity and signaling amplitude. Genetic evidence indicates that specific combinations of accessory proteins and ligands mediate vascular β-catenin signaling in different CNS structures. In the retina, the tetraspanin TSPAN12 and the ligand norrin (NDP) mediate angiogenesis, and both genes are linked to familial exudative vitreoretinopathy (FEVR), yet the molecular function of TSPAN12 remains poorly understood. Here, we report that TSPAN12 is an essential component of the NDP receptor complex and interacts with FZD4 and NDP via its extracellular loops, consistent with an action as co-receptor that enhances FZD4 ligand selectivity for NDP. FEVR-linked mutations in TSPAN12 prevent the incorporation of TSPAN12 into the NDP receptor complex. In vitro and in Xenopus embryos, TSPAN12 alleviates defects of FZD4 M105V, a mutation that destabilizes the NDP/FZD4 interaction. This study sheds light on the poorly understood function of accessory proteins in FZD signaling.

Keywords: FEVR; FZD4; NDP; Norrin; TSPAN12; angiogenesis; blood-brain barrier; blood-retina barrier; retina; tetraspanin.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Eye Proteins / genetics*
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism*
  • Frizzled Receptors / genetics
  • Frizzled Receptors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tetraspanins / metabolism*


  • Eye Proteins
  • Frizzled Receptors
  • NDP protein, human
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • TSPAN12 protein, human
  • Tetraspanins