The Drosophila melanogaster (Dm) decapentaplegic (dpp) gene product plays an essential role during several stages of Dm development. The DPP protein is a member of the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) superfamily and an orthologue of mammalian bone morphogenetic proteins (BMP-2 and -4). Recently, a cDNA clone encoding the mouse Ser/Thr kinase receptor specific for BMP-2/-4 (mTFRll) was isolated. Here, we describe the deduced primary structure, the cytogenetic position and expression pattern of the Dm homologue of mTFR11 (DTFR), a putative DPP receptor. The cytogenetic position of the Dm dtfr gene was mapped to 25D. DTFR has striking homology to mTFR11, especially in the cytoplasmic domain (approx. 63%), including a Ser+Gly-rich box that is characteristic of type-I receptors for the TGF-β superfamily. Although the amino acid (aa) sequence of the extracellular domain is less conserved than that of the cytoplasmic domain, the extracellular domains of these two molecules were more homologous (approx. 27%) to each other than any other receptors for the TGF-β superfamily. The spacing of Cys residues in the extracellular domain, which is considered crucial to ligand specificity, is highly conserved in these two receptors. During Dm embryonic development, its expression pattern changes in a dynamic fashion with high levels of expression in mesoderm and midgut, with some relation to dpp mutant phenotypes.
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