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Guerriero, Gea (2012)
Publisher: Elsevier
Journal: Genomics, Proteomics & Bioinformatics
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: Molecular Biology, Branchiostoma floridae, Discoidin domain, Genetics, Computational Mathematics, Biochemistry, Original Research, Chitin synthase, Extracellular matrix
The transition from unicellular to multicellular life forms requires the development of a specialized structural component, the extracellular matrix (ECM). In Metazoans, there are two main supportive systems, which are based on chitin and collagen/hyaluronan, respectively. Chitin is the major constituent of fungal cell walls and arthropod exoskeleton. However, presence of chitin/chitooligosaccharides has been reported in lower chordates and during specific stages of vertebrate development. In this study, the occurrence of chitin synthases (CHSs) was investigated with a bioinformatics approach in the cephalochordate Branchiostoma floridae, in which the presence of chitin was initially reported in the skeletal rods of the pharyngeal gill basket. Twelve genes coding for proteins containing conserved amino acid residues of processive glycosyltransferases from GT2 family were found and 10 of them display mosaic structures with novel domains never reported previously in a chitin synthase. In particular, the presence of a discoidin (DS) and a sterile alpha motif (SAM) domain was found in nine identified proteins. Sequence analyses and homology modelling suggest that these domains might interact with the extracellular matrix and mediate protein–protein interaction. The multi-domain putative chitin synthases from B. floridae constitute an emblematic example of the explosion of domain innovation and shuffling which predate Metazoans.

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