The Wnt-specific astacin proteinase HAS-7 restricts head organizer formation in Hydra

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Ziegler, Berenice
Yiallouros, Irene
Trageser, Benjamin
Kumar, Sumit
Mercker, Moritz
Kling, Svenja
Fath, Maike
Warnken, Uwe
Schnölzer, Martina
Holstein, Thomas W.
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Abstract Background The Hydra head organizer acts as a signaling center that initiates and maintains the primary body axis in steady state polyps and during budding or regeneration. Wnt/beta-Catenin signaling functions as a primary cue controlling this process, but how Wnt ligand activity is locally restricted at the protein level is poorly understood. Here we report a proteomic analysis of Hydra head tissue leading to the identification of an astacin family proteinase as a Wnt processing factor. Results Hydra astacin-7 (HAS-7) is expressed from gland cells as an apical-distal gradient in the body column, peaking close beneath the tentacle zone. HAS-7 siRNA knockdown abrogates HyWnt3 proteolysis in the head tissue and induces a robust double axis phenotype, which is rescued by simultaneous HyWnt3 knockdown. Accordingly, double axes are also observed in conditions of increased Wnt activity as in transgenic actin::HyWnt3 and HyDkk1/2/4 siRNA treated animals. HyWnt3-induced double axes in Xenopus embryos could be rescued by coinjection of HAS-7 mRNA. Mathematical modelling combined with experimental promotor analysis indicate an indirect regulation of HAS-7 by beta-Catenin, expanding the classical Turing-type activator-inhibitor model. Conclusions We show the astacin family protease HAS-7 maintains a single head organizer through proteolysis of HyWnt3. Our data suggest a negative regulatory function of Wnt processing astacin proteinases in the global patterning of the oral-aboral axis in Hydra.
BMC Biology. 2021 Jun 09;19(1):120