Identification of a Drosophila activin receptor

Steven R. Childs, Jeffrey L. Wrana, Kavita Arora, Liliana Attisano, Michael B. O'Connor, Joan Massagué

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Activins are cytokines of the transforming growth factor β superfamily that control various events during vertebrate embryo development and cell differentiation in the adult, and act through transmembrane receptors that contain a cytoplasmic protein-serine/threonine kinase domain. We describe the identification, deduced primary structure, and expression pattern of Atr-II, a receptor serine/threonine kinase found in Drosophila. With the exception of the spacing of 10 cysteine residues, the extracellular domain of Atr-II is very dissimilar from those of vertebrate activin receptors, yet it binds activin with high affinity and specificity. The kinase domain sequence of Atr-II is 60% identical to those of activin receptors from vertebrates, suggesting similarities in their signaling mechanisms. Maternal Atr-II transcript and its product are abundant in the oocyte. During development, the highest levels of Atr-II transcript and protein are observed in the mesoderm and gut. The possible role of an activin signaling system in Drosophila development is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9475-9479
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 1993


  • Protein-serine
  • Receptor kinase
  • Threonine kinase
  • Transforming growth factor β superfamily


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