The threonine that carries fucose, but not fucose, is required for Cripto to facilitate Nodal signaling

Shaolin Shi, Changhui Ge, Yi Luo, Xinghua Hou, Robert S. Haltiwanger, Pamela Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Cripto is a membrane-bound co-receptor for Nodal, a member of the transforming growth factor-β superfamily. Mouse embryos lacking either Cripto or Nodal have the same lethal phenotype at embryonic day 7.5. Previous studies suggest that O-fucosylation of the epidermal growth factor-like (EGF) repeat in Cripto is essential for the facilitation of Nodal signaling. Substitution of Ala for the Thr to which O-fucose is attached led to functional inactivation of both human and mouse Cripto. However, embryos null for protein O-fucosyltransferase 1, the enzyme that adds O-fucose to EGF repeats, do not exhibit a Cripto null phenotype and die at about embryonic day 9.5. This suggested that the loss of O-fucose from the EGF repeat may not have led to the inactivation of Cripto in previous studies. Here we investigate this hypothesis and show the following: 1) protein O-fucosyltransferase 1 is indeed the enzyme that adds O-fucose to Cripto; 2) Pofut1-/- embryonic stem cells behave the same as Pofut1+/+ embryonic stem cells in a Nodal signaling assay; 3) Pofut1-/- and Pofut1+/+ embryoid bodies are indistinguishable in their ability to differentiate into cardiomyocytes; and 4) none of 10 amino acid substitutions at Thr72, including Ser which acquires O-fucose, rescues the activity of mouse Cripto in Nodal signaling assays. Therefore, the Thr to which O-fucose is linked in Cripto plays a key functional role, but O-fucose at Thr72 is not required for Cripto to function in cell-based signaling assays or in vivo. By contrast, we show that O-fucose, and not the Thr to which it is attached, is required in the ligand-binding domain of Notch1 for Notch1 signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20133-20141
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 13 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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