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EMBO Rep. 2003 May;4(5):469-73.

The AVIT protein family. Secreted cysteine-rich vertebrate proteins with diverse functions.

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Current address: Institute of Genetics, University of Salzburg, Hellbrunnerstrasse 34, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria.


Homologues of a protein originally isolated from snake venom and frog skin secretions are present in many vertebrate species. They contain 80-90 amino acids, 10 of which are cysteines with identical spacing. Various names have been given to these proteins, such as mamba intestinal protein 1 (MIT1), Bv8 (Bombina variegata molecular mass approximately 8 kDa), prokineticins and endocrine-gland vascular endothelial growth factor (EG-VEGF). Their amino-terminal sequences are identical, and so we propose that the sequence of their first four residues, AVIT, is used as a name for this family. From a comparison of the sequences, two types of AVIT proteins can be discerned. These proteins seem to be distributed widely in mammalian tissues and are known to bind to G-protein-coupled receptors. Members of this family have been shown to stimulate contraction of the guinea pig ileum, to cause hyperalgesia after injection into rats and to be active as specific growth factors. Moreover, the messenger RNA level of one of these AVIT proteins changes rhythmically in the region of the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus. This shows that members of this new family of small proteins are involved in diverse biological processes.

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