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J Mol Biol. 2002 Oct 25;323(3):533-49.

Titins in C.elegans with unusual features: coiled-coil domains, novel regulation of kinase activity and two new possible elastic regions.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30332, USA.


We report that there are previously unrecognized proteins in Caenorhabditis elegans that are similar to the giant muscle proteins called titins, and these are encoded by a single approximately 90kb gene. The gene structure was predicted by GeneMark.hmm and then experimentally verified. The Ce titin gene encodes polypeptides of 2.2MDa, 1.2MDa and 301kDa. The 2.2MDa isoform resembles twitchin and UNC-89 in that it contains multiple Ig (56) and FnIII (11) domains, and a single protein kinase domain. In addition, however, the 2.2MDa isoform contains four classes of short, 14-51 residue, repeat motifs arranged mostly in many tandem copies. One of these tandem repeat regions is similar to the PEVK regions of vertebrate and fly titins. As the PEVK region is one of the main elastic elements of the titins and is also composed of short tandem repeats, this suggests that the repeat motifs in the Ce titins may have a similar elastic function. An interesting aspect of the two largest Ce titin isoforms, is that in contrast to other members of the twitchin/titin family, there are multiple regions which are likely to form coiled-coil structure. In transgenic animals, the first approximately 100 residues of the largest isoforms targets to dense bodies, the worm analogs of Z-discs. Anti-Ce titin antibodies show localization to muscle I-bands beginning at the L2-L3 larval stages and this pattern continues into adult muscle. Ce titins may not have a role in early myofibril assembly: (1) Ce titins are too short to span half a sarcomere, and the onset of their expression is well after the initial assembly of thick filaments. (2) Ce titins are not localized to I-bands in embryonic or L1 larval muscle. The Ce titin protein kinase domain is most similar to the kinase domains of the twitchins and projectin. The Ce titin kinase has protein kinase activity in vitro, and this activity is regulated by a novel mechanism.

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