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Cell Tissue Res. 2010 Dec;342(3):411-21. doi: 10.1007/s00441-010-1072-7. Epub 2010 Nov 18.

Cloning and expression of a novel component of the CAP superfamily enhanced in the inflammatory response to LPS of the ascidian Ciona intestinalis.

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Istituto di Biomedicina ed Immunologia Molecolare "Alberto Monroy" del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Via Ugo La Malfa 153, 90146 Palermo, Italy.


The CAP superfamily is a group of proteins that have been linked to several biological functions such as reproduction, cancer, and immune defense. A differential screening between lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-challenged and naive Ciona intestinalis has been performed to identify LPS-induced genes. This strategy has allowed the isolation of a full-length 1471-bp cDNA encoding for a 413-amino-acid protein (CiCAP). In silico analysis has shown that this polypeptide displays a modular structure with similarities to vertebrate CAP-superfamily proteins and to a collagen-binding adhesin of Streptococcus mutans. Domain organization analysis and alignment of CiCAP to other vertebrate CAP proteins have revealed a novel structure suggesting that this protein originated from a common ancestor gene that gave rise to many subfamilies of mosaic proteins with novel functions. Quantitative mRNA expression performed by real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis has demonstrated that this gene is rapidly activated in the pharynx of C. intestinalis a few hours after LPS injection. Moreover, in situ hybridization has shown that CiCAP mRNA is highly expressed by hemocytes with large granules contained inside the pharynx vessels. Thus, CiCAP represents a protein with novel structural domains involved in ascidian immune responses.

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