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J Comp Neurol. 2006 May 10;496(2):244-51.

Neuron-specific expression of a synaptotagmin gene in the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus.

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Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3N5, Canada.


Interest in chordate evolution has emphasized a need for a better understanding of the comparative neuroanatomy of invertebrate deuterostomes. However, molecular and genetic approaches to neurobiological studies in these groups are hampered by a lack of neuron-specific molecular markers. A monoclonal antibody, 1E11, is neuron specific and is useful in identification of neural structures in larvae and adults of echinoderms, hemichordates, and urochordates. To identify a neuron-specific gene product, we have characterized the antigen recognized by 1E11. In immunoblots and immunoprecipitations of neural tissue from adult Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, 1E11 recognizes a 57-kDa band. Tandem mass spectrometry of trypsin digests of the 57-kDa band permitted peptide mass mapping and sequencing of five peptides. All of the sequenced peptides, and 12 additional mass-mapped peptides, are found within the open reading frame of a cDNA encoding synaptotagmin B (Sp-SynB). In situ RNA hybridizations with synaptotagmin B probes with S. purpuratus larvae reveal a pattern of expression that is similar to that revealed by the antibody 1E11. Antibodies produced against a bacterially expressed Sp-SynB protein recognize a 57-kDa protein and colocalize with 1E11. When a full-length Sp-SynB cDNA is expressed in chicken embryonic cells, the cells become immunoreactive to 1E11. We conclude that synaptotagmin B is a gene expressed in neurons that has conserved epitopes in other invertebrate deuterostomes.

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