Jing, X.H., Zhou, S.M., Wang, W.Q., and Chen, Y. (2006) Mechanisms underlying long- and short-range nodal signaling in Zebrafish. Mechanisms of Development. 123(5):388-394.
Precise regulation of the signaling range of secreted molecules is essential for proper pattern formation during development. The Nodal family of TGF-beta proteins has been shown to function as both short- and long-range signals. But the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. In this study, we investigated the regulation of the signaling range of zebrafish Nodal proteins Cyclops and Squint, which are short- and long-range signals, respectively. We show that (1) the stability of Cyclops and Squint correlates with the activity range but increasing the stability of the short-range Cyclops does not increase its signaling range; (2) structural differences in the N-terminus region of the mature peptides of Cyclops and Squint determine their differences in the signaling range and swapping the N-terminus region of the Squint mature ligand into that of Cyclops makes the latter function at a distance.