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Int J Biol Macromol. 1992 Jun;14(3):145-53.

Comparative structural analysis of desmoplakin, bullous pemphigoid antigen and plectin: members of a new gene family involved in organization of intermediate filaments.

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Northwestern University Medical School, Department of Pathology, Chicago, IL 60611.


Desmoplakins (DP) and bullous pemphigoid antigen (BPA) are major plaque components of the desmosome and hemidesmosome, respectively. These cell adhesion structures are both associated intimately with the intermediate filament (IF) network. Structural analyses of DP and BPA sequences have indicated that these molecules are likely to form extended dumbbell-shaped dimers with a central rod and globular end domains. Recent sequence data have indicated that the N-terminal domains of both DP and BPA (like their C-terminal domains) are highly related: the former contain regions of heptad repeats that are predicted to form several alpha-helical bundles. Comparisons of DP and BPA protein sequences with that of plectin (PL), a 466 kDa IF-associated protein, have also revealed large scale homology. Identities between their N-terminal domains are: DP:BPA = 35%, DP:PL = 32%, BPA:PL = 40%, suggesting that BPA is more closely related to PL than DP in this region. In the C-terminal domains, which contain a 38-residue repeating motif, however, DP and PL are closer relatives (identities: DP:BPA = 38%, BPA:PL = 40%, DP:PL = 49%). The central domains of all three proteins have extensive heptad repeat substructure, express the same periodic distribution of charged residues, and are predicted to form two-stranded alpha-helical coiled-coil ropes. These observations suggest that DP, BPA and PL belong to a new gene family encoding proteins involved in IF organization.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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