Date Published:2000 Jul
The Drosophila segment polarity gene product Porcupine (Porc) was first identified as being necessary for processing Wingless (Wg), a Drosophila Wnt (Wnt) family member. Mouse and Xenopus homologs of porc (Mporc and Xporc) were identified and found to encode endoplasmic reticulum (ER) proteins with multiple transmembrane domains. In contrast with porc, four different types of Mporc and Xporc mRNA (A-D) are generated from a single gene by alternative splicing. Mporc mRNA is differentially expressed during embryogenesis and in various adult tissues, demonstrating that the alternative splicing is regulated to synthesize the specific types of Mporc. In transfected mammalian cells, all Mporc types affect the processing of mouse Wnt 1, 3A, 4, 6, and 7B but not 5A. Furthermore, all Mporc types are co-immunoprecipitated with various Wnt proteins. These results suggest that Mporc may function as a chaperone-like molecule for Wnt. Interestingly, all Mporc types can substitute for Porc, as they are able to rescue the phenotypes of Drosophila porc embryos. Consistent with this observation, Mporc, like Porc, modifies the processing of Wg expressed in mammalian cells. These results demonstrate that the porc gene family encodes the multitransmembrane ER proteins, which are evolutionarily well conserved and involved in processing the Wnt family.