We found that the secreted serine protease xHtrA1, expressed in the early embryo and transcriptionally activated by FGF signals, promotes posterior development in mRNA-injected Xenopus embryos. xHtrA1 mRNA led to the induction of secondary tail-like structures, expansion of mesoderm, and formation of ectopic neurons in an FGF-dependent manner. An antisense morpholino oligonucleotide or a neutralizing antibody against xHtrA1 had the opposite effects. xHtrA1 activates FGF/ ERK signaling and the transcription of FGF genes. We show that Xenopus Biglycan, Syndecan-4, and Glypican-4 are proteolytic targets of xHtrA1 and that heparan sulfate and dermatan sulfate trigger posteriorization, mesoderm induction, and neuronal differentiation via the FGIF signaling pathway. The results are consistent with a mechanism by which xHtrA1, through cleaving proteoglycans, releases cellsurface-bound FGF ligands and stimulates long-range FGF signaling.
- Cell- och molekylärbiologi