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EMBO J. 1989 Nov;8(11):3221-7.

Cytoplasmic intermediate filament proteins of invertebrates are closer to nuclear lamins than are vertebrate intermediate filament proteins; sequence characterization of two muscle proteins of a nematode.

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  • 1Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Department of Biochemistry, Göttingen, FRG.


The giant body muscle cells of the nematode Ascaris lumbricoides show a complex three dimensional array of intermediate filaments (IFs). They contain two proteins, A (71 kd) and B (63 kd), which we now show are able to form homopolymeric filaments in vitro. The complete amino acid sequence of B and 80% of A have been determined. A and B are two homologous proteins with a 55% sequence identity over the rod and tail domains. Sequence comparisons with the only other invertebrate IF protein currently known (Helix pomatia) and with vertebrate IF proteins show that along the coiled-coil rod domain, sequence principles rather than actual sequences are conserved in evolution. Noticeable exceptions are the consensus sequences at the ends of the rod, which probably play a direct role in IF assembly. Like the Helix IF protein the nematode proteins have six extra heptads in the coil 1b segment. These are characteristic of nuclear lamins from vertebrates and invertebrates and are not found in vertebrate IF proteins. Unexpectedly the enhanced homology between lamins and invertebrate IF proteins continues in the tail domains, which in vertebrate IF proteins totally diverge. The sequence alignment necessitates the introduction of a 15 residue deletion in the tail domain of all three invertebrate IF proteins. Its location coincides with the position of the karyophilic signal sequence, which dictates nuclear entry of the lamins. The results provide the first molecular support for the speculation that nuclear lamins and cytoplasmic IF proteins arose in eukaryotic evolution from a common lamin-like predecessor.

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