Autotaxin (ATX) is a secreted enzyme that produces a bioactive lysophospholipid, lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). ATX plays a role in vascular and neural development in embryos but its mechanisms remain unclear. At the beginning of this study, only one zebrafish atx gene (atxa) was known and had been investigated. In this study, we generated ATX knockout (KO) fish by TALEN targeting atxa. Unexpectedly, atxa KO fish showed neither vascular defects nor reduction of ATX activity, implying the existence of one or more other ATXs in the genome. By a BLAST search using ATXa protein fragments as a query, we found a genomic sequence that closely resembled atxa exons 13, 14 and 15. Consequently, we cloned a cDNA encoding a second zebrafish autotaxin (ATXb), and found that it was transcribed in various tissues. The atxb gene encoded a protein of 832 amino acids (compared to 850 amino acids in ATXa) with 60% amino acid identity to ATXa and clustered with ATXs from other species. A recombinant ATXb protein showed lysophospholipase D (lysoPLD) activities with substrate specificities similar to those of ATXa and mammalian ATXs. These results indicate that ATXb is a second zebrafish ATX, which possibly shares redundant roles with ATXa in embryonic development.
- lysophosphatidic acid