The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 44: 341 - 348 (2000)

Vol 44, Issue 4

Characterization of follistatin isoforms in early Xenopus embryogenesis

Published: 30 November -0001

T S Yamamoto, S Iemura, C Takagi, S Shimasaki and N Ueno

Department of Developmental Biology, National Institute for Basic Biology, Okazaki, Japan.


Follistatin is expressed in Spemann's organizer in the Xenopus gastrula and mimics the activity of the organizer, inducing a neural fate directly in the ectoderm. We have previously shown that follistatin inhibits BMP activity through a direct interaction. In this study, we have characterized the localization and function of two follistatin isoforms to examine the functional differences between them. One notable difference, previously described, is that the shorter form (xFSS or xFS319) but not the C-terminally extended long form (xFSL) associates with cell-surface matrices. Here, we show that the spatial-temporal expression pattern of xFSL and xFSS is indistinguishable. Interestingly, however, xFSS was found to have a more potent inhibitory activity against BMP-4 than xFSL. Furthermore, using a surface plasmon resonance biosensor, xFSS was shown to have a higher binding capacity for BMP subtypes. The diffusion rates of xFSS and xFSL ectopically expressed in Xenopus embryos were similar. Taken together, our results suggest that the difference in BMP-inhibiting activity of the two follistatin isoforms is mainly attributable to a difference in their BMP binding properties rather than to their diffusion rates.

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