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Identification and characterization of acid and alkaline phosphatases and protein phosphatases in L. catesbeianus tail during metamorphosis


Amphibian metamorphosis is a tightly regulated transformation involving the participation of hormones and other biomolecules in cell death and tail absorption. Among the regulators, phosphate is essential for various processes, such as cell death and survival and enzyme activity regulation. Therefore, identification and characterization of phosphatases in L. catesbeianus tail may contribute to understand the events involved in cell death and nutrient release during metamorphosis. Differential centrifugation was used to separate soluble proteins from membrane proteins and analyzed by phosphomonohydrolases, serine/threonine protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), and protein tyrosine phosphatase (PTP) assays. Mitochondrial fractioning was used to evaluate PP2A and alkaline phosphatase activities. Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) analysis was performed using the crude extract. Phosphomonohydrolase activity was assayed by p-nitrophenylphosphate (pNPP) hydrolysis, whereas PP2A and PTP were assayed by peptides phosphorylated in threonine and tyrosine, respectively; inhibitor-2 was used to identify the serine/threonine protein phosphatase type 1 (PP1). The enzymatic activities and kinetic parameters of pNPP hydrolysis revealed three distinct phosphomonohydrolases. MS/MS analysis of the crude extract revealed three protein phosphatases, viz., PP2A, PP1, and a PTP, which was confirmed by in vitro assays. The results may relate PP2A activity to membrane-bound alkaline phosphatase, PTP activity to soluble acid phosphatase, and PP1 activity to membrane acid phosphatase, although more detailed studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis. We propose a model providing information on the role of PP1 and PP2A in the signaling events leading to cell death and the role of these enzymes in anuran tail absorption during metamorphosis.

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Data availability

Not applicable.



BCL-2 antagonist of cell death


BCL-2 Associated X


B cell lymphoma 2 – family of regulator proteins


B cell lymphoma-extra large


Bovine serum albumin


Electrospray ionization


Full Width at Half Maximum




Higher-energy C-trap dissociation




Low molecular weight phosphotyrosine protein phosphatase


Mitochondrial fraction


Mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization


Platelet derived growth factor


Phospholipase C




Phosphoprotein phosphatases


Protein phosphatase 1


Protein phosphatase 2A


Protein phosphatase 2B


Protein phosphatase 4


Protein phosphatase 5


Protein phosphatase 6


Protein phosphatase 7


Magnesium dependent protein phosphatases


Peptide-spectrum matches


Protein tyrosine phosphatase


Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


Fraction containing soluble and cytoplasmic membrane proteins


Thyroid hormone


Tumor necrosis factor


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We are grateful to all the members of LEIA (Laboratório de Enzimologia e Imunoquímica Aplicadas).

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This work was supported by CAPES and FAPESP.

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AMG, CCS, RRC and LFJS and classified the animals, executed the experiments and participated on results discussion. AMG performed the statistical analyses. TSB performed mass spectrometry analyses and result interpretation. AMG and JMPJ conceived of the study and wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Adriano Marques Gonçalves.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Fig. 1

Scheme for obtaining soluble and membrane proteins (PNG 65 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 2

Scheme of mitochondrial isolation from the tail of L. catesbeianus tadpole (PNG 30 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 3

Effect of pNPP concentration on p-nitrophenylphosphatase activity of the phosphatases present in the tail of stage 44 L. catesbeianus tadpoles. A- Alkaline phosphatase solubilized with PIPLC. B- Membrane-bound acid phosphatase. C- Soluble acid phosphatase. (PNG 41 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 4

Apparent optimum pH of alkaline phosphatase activity present in the tail membrane fraction of stage 44 L. catesbeianus tadpoles. A- pNPP 1 mM. B- pNPP 0.1 mM (PNG 311 kb)

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Gonçalves, A.M., Santana, C.C., Santos, L.F.J.D. et al. Identification and characterization of acid and alkaline phosphatases and protein phosphatases in L. catesbeianus tail during metamorphosis. Biologia 76, 3521–3531 (2021).

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  • Anura
  • Cell death
  • Metamorphosis
  • Mitochondria
  • Phosphatases
  • PP2A
  • PP1