Characterisation of Drosophila thrombospondin defines an early origin of pentameric thrombospondins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Thrombospondins (TSPs) are multidomain oligomers that have complex roles in cell interactions and tissue organisation. The five vertebrate TSPs comprise two subgroups, A and B, that are assembled as trimers or pentamers, respectively. An invertebrate TSP was recently discovered in Drosophila melanogaster, but there is no knowledge of the oligomerisation status or properties of this molecule. We developed by bioinformatics a new dataset containing the single TSP of Drosophila melanogaster and four other newly identified invertebrate TSPs to examine the phylogenetic relationships of TSPs. These analyses clearly indicate pentamerisation as an early attribute of TSPs. We demonstrate experimentally that D. melanogaster TSP is assembled as a pentamer, has heparin-binding activity and is a component of extracellular matrix (ECM). During embryogenesis, the TSP transcript is concentrated at muscle attachment sites and is expressed by a subset of myoblasts and in imaginal discs. These novel results establish TSPs as highly conserved ECM components in both invertebrates and vertebrates and open fresh perspectives on the conservation of structure and biological function within this family


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Developmental Biology


  • molecular phylogeny, RGD-motif, heparin-binding, extracellular matrix, cell interactions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-494
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Publication categoryResearch