, Volume 65, Issue 14, pp 2232-2243

Kuz and TACE can activate Notch independent of ligand

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A central mechanism in activation of the Notch signaling pathway is cleavage of the Notch receptor by ADAM metalloproteases. ADAMs also cleave Delta, the ligand for Notch, thereby downregulating Notch signals. Two ADAMs, Kuzbanian (Kuz) and TNF-α converting enzyme (TACE), are known to process both Delta and Notch, yet the role of these cleavages in signal propagation has remained controversial. Using an in vitro model, we show that Kuz regulates Notch signaling primarily by activating the receptor and has little overall effect on signaling via disabling Delta. We confirm that Kuz-dependent activation of Notch requires stimulation of Notch by Delta. However, over-expression of Kuz gives ligand-independent Notch activation. In contrast, TACE, which is elevated in expression in the developing Drosophila nervous system, can efficiently activate Notch in a ligand-independent manner. Altogether, these data demonstrate the potential for Kuz and TACE to participate in context- and mechanism-specific modes of Notch activation.

Received 12 March 2008; received after revision 14 May 2008; accepted 16 May 2008