Simultaneous rather than ordered cleavage of two sites within the BMP4 prodomain leads to loss of ligand in mice

Anup Tilak, Sylvia M. Nelsen, Hyung Seok Kim, Nathan Donley, Autumn McKnite, Hyunjung Lee, Jan L. Christian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


ProBMP4 is generated as a latent precursor that is sequentially cleaved at two sites within the prodomain to generate an active ligand. An initial cleavage occurs adjacent to the ligand domain, which generates a non-covalently associated prodomain/ligand complex that is subsequently dissociated by cleavage at an upstream site. An outstanding question is whether the two sites need to be cleaved sequentially and in the correct order to achieve proper control of BMP4 signaling during development. In the current studies, we demonstrate that mice carrying a knock-in point mutation that causes simultaneous rather than sequential cleavage of both prodomain sites show loss of BMP4 function and die during mid-embryogenesis. Levels of mature BMP4 are severely reduced in mutants, although levels of precursor and cleaved prodomain are unchanged compared with wild type. Our biochemical analysis supports a model in which the transient prodomain/ligand complex that forms during sequential cleavage plays an essential role in prodomain-mediated stabilization of the mature ligand until it can acquire protection from degradation by other means. By contrast, simultaneous cleavage causes premature release of the ligand from the prodomain, leading to destabilization of the ligand and loss of signaling in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3062-3071
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Bone morphogenetic protein 4
  • Prodomain
  • Proprotein convertase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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