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Gene. 2000 Sep 19;255(2):317-25.

Tunicates have unusual nuclear lamins with a large deletion in the carboxyterminal tail domain.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Am Fassberg 11, 37077, Goettingen, Germany.


Lamins are essential proteins of metazoa. They give rise to the nuclear lamina lining the nucleoplasmic face of the inner nuclear membrane. Here we report the isolation of complete lamin cDNA clones from three urochordate (tunicate) libraries - adult Ciona intestinalis, the tailbud stage of Styela clava and the gastrula stage of Molgula oculata. Lamins L1 and L2 of adult Ciona are derived from two distinct genes. The sequence of the 3' part of the Ciona lamin L1 gene shows that the alpha and beta variants of lamin L1 in Ciona and Styela arise by alternative choice of the 5' splice site at the last intron. Strikingly, all urochordate sequences reveal a 90 residue deletion which removes nearly the entire 105-box. This region is the only long sequence homology segment in the carboxyterminal tail domain of lamins from animals as diverse as Hydra, Drosophila, Priapulus, Caenorhabditis elegans, several echinoderms, the cephalochordate Branchiostoma and various vertebrates. We discuss this unexpected plasticity of lamin sequences as a urochordate specific marker. To increase the database for the chordates we completed the partial sequence of the Branchiostoma lamin by the N-terminal head and central rod domains. The molecular phylogenetic analysis of the metazoan lamin sequences emphasises the monophyletic nature of the chordates in line with the morphological evidence.

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