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Gene. 2004 Jun 9;334:133-43.

Ependymin, a gene involved in regeneration and neuroplasticity in vertebrates, is overexpressed during regeneration in the echinoderm Holothuria glaberrima.

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Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico, Room 220 JGD Building, Ponce de Leon Avenue, PO Box 23360, UPR Station, San Juan, PR 00931-3360, USA.


We report the characterization of an ependymin-related gene (EpenHg) from a regenerating intestine cDNA library of the sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima. This finding is remarkable because no ependymin sequence has ever been reported from invertebrates. Database comparisons of the conceptual translation of the EpenHg gene reveal 63% similarity (47% identity) with mammalian ependymin-related proteins (MERPs) and close relationship with the frog and piscine ependymins. We also report the partial sequences of ependymin representatives from another species of sea cucumber and from a sea urchin species. Conventional and real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCRs) show that the gene is expressed in several echinoderm tissues, including esophagus, mesenteries, gonads, respiratory trees, hemal system, tentacles and body wall. Moreover, the ependymin product in the intestine is overexpressed during sea cucumber intestinal regeneration. The discovery of ependymins in echinoderms, a group well known for their regenerative capacities, can give us an insight on the evolution and roles of ependymin molecules.

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