Send to

Choose Destination
Eur J Biochem. 2003 Dec;270(24):4909-20.

The astacin protein family in Caenorhabditis elegans.

Author information

Institute of Zoology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.


In the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, 40 genes code for astacin-like proteins (nematode astacins, NAS). The astacins are metalloproteases present in bacteria, invertebrates and vertebrates and serve a variety of physiological functions like digestion, hatching, peptide processing, morphogenesis and pattern formation. With the exception of one distorted pseudogene, all the other C. elegans astacins are expressed and are evidently functional. For 13 genes we found splicing patterns differing from the Genefinder predictions in WormBase, sometimes markedly. The GFP expression pattern for NAS-4 shows a specific localization in anterior pharynx cells and in the whole digestive tract (as the secreted form). In contrast, NAS-7 is found in the head of adult hermaphrodites, but not in pharynx cells or in the lumen of the digestive tract. In embryos, NAS-7 fluorescence becomes detectable just before hatching. In C. elegans astacins, three basic structural and functional moieties can be discerned: a prepro portion, the central catalytic chain and long C-terminal extensions with presumably regulatory functions. Within the regulatory moiety, EFG-like, CUB, SXC, and TSP-1 domains can be distinguished. Based on structural differences of the regulatory unit we established six NAS subgroups, which seemingly represented different functional and evolutionary clusters. This pattern deduced exclusively from the domain arrangement in the regulatory moiety is perfectly reflected in an evolutionary tree constructed solely from amino acid sequence information of the catalytic chain. Related catalytic chains tend to have related regulatory extensions. The notable gene, NAS-39 shows a striking resemblance to human BMP-1 and the tolloids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center