In C. elegans, the TGFbeta-like type II receptor daf-4 is required for two distinct signaling pathways. In association with the type I receptor daf-1, it functions in the dauer pathway. In addition, it is also required for body size determination and male tail patterning, roles which do not require daf-1. In an effort to determine how two different signals are transmitted through daf-4, we looked for other potential signaling partners for DAF-4. We have cloned and characterized a novel type I receptor and show that it is encoded by sma-6. Mutations in sma-6 generate the reduced body size (Sma) and abnormal mail tail (Mab) phenotypes identical to those observed in daf-4 and sma-2, sma-3, sma-4 mutants (C. elegans Smads), indicating that they function in a common signaling pathway. However, mutations in sma-6, sma-2, sma-3, or sma-4 do not produce constitutive dauers, which demonstrates that the unique biological functions of daf-4 are mediated by distinct type I receptors functioning in parallel pathways. We propose that the C. elegans model for TGFbeta-like signaling, in which distinct type I receptors determine specificity, may be a general mechanism of achieving specificity in other organisms. These findings distinguish between the manner in which signaling specificity is achieved in TGFbeta-like pathways and receptor tyrosine-kinase (RTK) pathways.
Specificity of TGFbeta signaling is conferred by distinct type I receptors and their associated SMAD proteins in Caenorhabditis elegans
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S. Krishna, L.L. Maduzia, R.W. Padgett; Specificity of TGFbeta signaling is conferred by distinct type I receptors and their associated SMAD proteins in Caenorhabditis elegans. Development 15 January 1999; 126 (2): 251–260. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/dev.126.2.251
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