Special Issue "Feature Papers"

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A special issue of Biomolecules (ISSN 2218-273X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2011)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Jürg Bähler (Website)

Department of Genetics, Evolution & Environment and UCL Cancer Institute, University College London, Darwin Building, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, UK
Fax: +44 2076 797096
Interests: gene regulation; genomics; transcriptomics; next-generation sequencing; non-coding RNAs; genome evolution; fission yeast; oxidative stress response; cellular quiescence and ageing

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Interaction of PTPIP51 with Tubulin, CGI-99 and Nuf2 During Cell Cycle Progression
Biomolecules 2012, 2(1), 122-142; doi:10.3390/biom2010122
Received: 30 December 2011 / Revised: 4 February 2012 / Accepted: 14 February 2012 / Published: 23 February 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (3499 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Protein tyrosine phosphatase interacting protein 51 (PTPIP51), also known as regulator of microtubule dynamics protein 3, was identified as an in vitro and in vivo interaction partner of CGI-99 and Nuf-2. PTPIP51 mRNA is expressed in all stages of the cell cycle; [...] Read more.
Protein tyrosine phosphatase interacting protein 51 (PTPIP51), also known as regulator of microtubule dynamics protein 3, was identified as an in vitro and in vivo interaction partner of CGI-99 and Nuf-2. PTPIP51 mRNA is expressed in all stages of the cell cycle; it is highly expressed six hours post-nocodazole treatment and minimally expressed one hour post-nocodazole treatment. Recent investigations located PTPIP51 protein at the equatorial plate. This study reports the localization of the PTPIP51/CGI-99 and the PTPIP51/Nuf-2 complex at the equatorial region during mitosis. Moreover, Duolink proximity ligation assays revealed an association of PTPIP51 with the microtubular cytoskeleton and the spindle apparatus. High amounts of phosphorylated PTPIP51 associated with the spindle poles was seen by confocal microscopy. In parallel a strong interaction of PTPIP51 with the epidermal growth factor receptor phosphorylating PTPIP51 at the tyrosine 176 residue was seen. In the M/G1 transition a high level of interaction between PTPIP51 and PTP1B was registered, thus restoring the interaction of PTPIP51 and Raf-1, depleted in mitotic cells. Summarizing these new facts, we conclude that PTPIP51 is necessary for normal mitotic processes, impacting on chromosomal division and control of the MAPK pathway activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Open AccessArticle Conformational Ensembles of an Intrinsically Disordered Protein pKID with and without a KIX Domain in Explicit Solvent Investigated by All-Atom Multicanonical Molecular Dynamics
Biomolecules 2012, 2(1), 104-121; doi:10.3390/biom2010104
Received: 28 December 2011 / Revised: 11 February 2012 / Accepted: 12 February 2012 / Published: 22 February 2012
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (2526 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The phosphorylated kinase-inducible activation domain (pKID) adopts a helix–loop–helix structure upon binding to its partner KIX, although it is unstructured in the unbound state. The N-terminal and C-terminal regions of pKID, which adopt helices in the complex, are called, respectively, αA [...] Read more.
The phosphorylated kinase-inducible activation domain (pKID) adopts a helix–loop–helix structure upon binding to its partner KIX, although it is unstructured in the unbound state. The N-terminal and C-terminal regions of pKID, which adopt helices in the complex, are called, respectively, αA and αB. We performed all-atom multicanonical molecular dynamics simulations of pKID with and without KIX in explicit solvents to generate conformational ensembles. Although the unbound pKID was disordered overall, αA and αB exhibited a nascent helix propensity; the propensity of αA was stronger than that of αB, which agrees with experimental results. In the bound state, the free-energy landscape of αB involved two low free-energy fractions: native-like and non-native fractions. This result suggests that αB folds according to the induced-fit mechanism. The αB-helix direction was well aligned as in the NMR complex structure, although the αA helix exhibited high flexibility. These results also agree quantitatively with experimental observations. We have detected that the αB helix can bind to another site of KIX, to which another protein MLL also binds with the adopting helix. Consequently, MLL can facilitate pKID binding to the pKID-binding site by blocking the MLL-binding site. This also supports experimentally obtained results. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
Open AccessArticle A New Method to Determine Antigen-Specific CD8+ T Cell Activity in Vivo by Hydrodynamic Injection
Biomolecules 2012, 2(1), 23-33; doi:10.3390/biom2010023
Received: 25 November 2011 / Revised: 30 December 2011 / Accepted: 1 January 2012 / Published: 5 January 2012
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Abstract
Hydrodynamic tail vein (HTV) delivery is a simple and rapid tail vein injection method of a high volume of naked plasmid DNA resulting in high levels of foreign gene expression in organs, especially the liver. Compared to other organs, HTV delivery results [...] Read more.
Hydrodynamic tail vein (HTV) delivery is a simple and rapid tail vein injection method of a high volume of naked plasmid DNA resulting in high levels of foreign gene expression in organs, especially the liver. Compared to other organs, HTV delivery results in more than a 1000-fold higher transgene expression in liver. After being bitten by malaria-infected mosquitoes, malaria parasites transiently infect the host liver and form the liver stages. The liver stages are known to be the key target for CD8+ T cells that mediate protective anti-malaria immunity in an animal model. Therefore, in this study, we utilized the HTV delivery technique as a tool to determine the in vivo cytotoxic effect of malaria antigen-specific CD8+ T cells. Two weeks after mice were immunized with recombinant adenoviruses expressing malarial antigens, the immunized mice as well as naïve mice were challenged by HTV delivery of naked plasmid DNA co-encoding respective antigen together with luciferase using dual promoters. Three days after the HTV challenge, non-invasive whole-body bioluminescent imaging was performed. The images demonstrate in vivo activity of CD8+ T cells against malaria antigen-expressing cells in liver. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Open AccessArticle Exploring the Optimal Strategy to Predict Essential Genes in Microbes
Biomolecules 2012, 2(1), 1-22; doi:10.3390/biom2010001
Received: 11 November 2011 / Revised: 16 December 2011 / Accepted: 19 December 2011 / Published: 27 December 2011
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1115 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Accurately predicting essential genes is important in many aspects of biology, medicine and bioengineering. In previous research, we have developed a machine learning based integrative algorithm to predict essential genes in bacterial species. This algorithm lends itself to two approaches for predicting [...] Read more.
Accurately predicting essential genes is important in many aspects of biology, medicine and bioengineering. In previous research, we have developed a machine learning based integrative algorithm to predict essential genes in bacterial species. This algorithm lends itself to two approaches for predicting essential genes: learning the traits from known essential genes in the target organism, or transferring essential gene annotations from a closely related model organism. However, for an understudied microbe, each approach has its potential limitations. The first is constricted by the often small number of known essential genes. The second is limited by the availability of model organisms and by evolutionary distance. In this study, we aim to determine the optimal strategy for predicting essential genes by examining four microbes with well-characterized essential genes. Our results suggest that, unless the known essential genes are few, learning from the known essential genes in the target organism usually outperforms transferring essential gene annotations from a related model organism. In fact, the required number of known essential genes is surprisingly small to make accurate predictions. In prokaryotes, when the number of known essential genes is greater than 2% of total genes, this approach already comes close to its optimal performance. In eukaryotes, achieving the same best performance requires over 4% of total genes, reflecting the increased complexity of eukaryotic organisms. Combining the two approaches resulted in an increased performance when the known essential genes are few. Our investigation thus provides key information on accurately predicting essential genes and will greatly facilitate annotations of microbial genomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Open AccessArticle Development and Application of Multidimensional HPLC Mapping Method for O-linked Oligosaccharides
Biomolecules 2011, 1(1), 48-62; doi:10.3390/biom1010048
Received: 29 August 2011 / Revised: 30 November 2011 / Accepted: 5 December 2011 / Published: 14 December 2011
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (454 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Glycosylation improves the solubility and stability of proteins, contributes to the structural integrity of protein functional sites, and mediates biomolecular recognition events involved in cell-cell communications and viral infections. The first step toward understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying these carbohydrate functionalities is [...] Read more.
Glycosylation improves the solubility and stability of proteins, contributes to the structural integrity of protein functional sites, and mediates biomolecular recognition events involved in cell-cell communications and viral infections. The first step toward understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying these carbohydrate functionalities is a detailed characterization of glycan structures. Recently developed glycomic approaches have enabled comprehensive analyses of N-glycosylation profiles in a quantitative manner. However, there are only a few reports describing detailed O-glycosylation profiles primarily because of the lack of a widespread standard method to identify O-glycan structures. Here, we developed an HPLC mapping method for detailed identification of O-glycans including neutral, sialylated, and sulfated oligosaccharides. Furthermore, using this method, we were able to quantitatively identify isomeric products from an in vitro reaction catalyzed by N-acetylglucosamine-6O-sulfotransferases and obtain O-glycosylation profiles of serum IgA as a model glycoprotein. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Open AccessArticle Ursolic Acid Inhibits Na+/K+-ATPase Activity and Prevents TNF-α-Induced Gene Expression by Blocking Amino Acid Transport and Cellular Protein Synthesis
Biomolecules 2011, 1(1), 32-47; doi:10.3390/biom1010032
Received: 20 August 2011 / Revised: 26 October 2011 / Accepted: 27 October 2011 / Published: 7 November 2011
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (476 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, induce the expression of a wide variety of genes, including intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1). Ursolic acid (3β-hydroxy-urs-12-en-28-oic acid) was identified to inhibit the cell-surface ICAM-1 expression induced by pro-inflammatory cytokines in human [...] Read more.
Pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, induce the expression of a wide variety of genes, including intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1). Ursolic acid (3β-hydroxy-urs-12-en-28-oic acid) was identified to inhibit the cell-surface ICAM-1 expression induced by pro-inflammatory cytokines in human lung carcinoma A549 cells. Ursolic acid was found to inhibit the TNF-α-induced ICAM-1 protein expression almost completely, whereas the TNF-α-induced ICAM-1 mRNA expression and NF-κB signaling pathway were decreased only partially by ursolic acid. In line with these findings, ursolic acid prevented cellular protein synthesis as well as amino acid uptake, but did not obviously affect nucleoside uptake and the subsequent DNA/RNA syntheses. This inhibitory profile of ursolic acid was similar to that of the Na+/K+-ATPase inhibitor, ouabain, but not the translation inhibitor, cycloheximide. Consistent with this notion, ursolic acid was found to inhibit the catalytic activity of Na+/K+-ATPase. Thus, our present study reveals a novel molecular mechanism in which ursolic acid inhibits Na+/K+-ATPase activity and prevents the TNF-α-induced gene expression by blocking amino acid transport and cellular protein synthesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Leucine-Rich Repeat (LRR) Domains Containing Intervening Motifs in Plants
Biomolecules 2012, 2(2), 288-311; doi:10.3390/biom2020288
Received: 7 May 2012 / Revised: 13 June 2012 / Accepted: 13 June 2012 / Published: 22 June 2012
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (1269 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
LRRs (leucine rich repeats) are present in over 14,000 proteins. Non-LRR, island regions (IRs) interrupting LRRs are widely distributed. The present article reviews 19 families of LRR proteins having non-LRR IRs (LRR@IR proteins) from various plant species. The LRR@IR proteins are LRR-containing [...] Read more.
LRRs (leucine rich repeats) are present in over 14,000 proteins. Non-LRR, island regions (IRs) interrupting LRRs are widely distributed. The present article reviews 19 families of LRR proteins having non-LRR IRs (LRR@IR proteins) from various plant species. The LRR@IR proteins are LRR-containing receptor-like kinases (LRR-RLKs), LRR-containing receptor-like proteins (LRR-RLPs), TONSOKU/BRUSHY1, and MJK13.7; the LRR-RLKs are homologs of TMK1/Rhg4, BRI1, PSKR, PSYR1, Arabidopsis At1g74360, and RPK2, while the LRR-RLPs are those of Cf-9/Cf-4, Cf-2/Cf-5, Ve, HcrVf, RPP27, EIX1, clavata 2, fascinated ear2, RLP2, rice Os10g0479700, and putative soybean disease resistance protein. The LRRs are intersected by single, non-LRR IRs; only the RPK2 homologs have two IRs. In most of the LRR-RLKs and LRR-RLPs, the number of repeat units in the preceding LRR block (N1) is greater than the number of the following block (N2); N1 » N2 in which N1 is variable in the homologs of individual families, while N2 is highly conserved. The five families of the LRR-RLKs except for the RPK2 family show N1 = 8 − 18 and N2 = 3 − 5. The nine families of the LRR-RLPs show N1 = 12 − 33 and N2 = 4; while N1 = 6 and N2 = 4 for the rice Os10g0479700 family and the N1 = 4 − 28 and N2 = 4 for the soybean protein family. The rule of N1 » N2 might play a common, significant role in ligand interaction, dimerization, and/or signal transduction of the LRR-RLKs and the LRR-RLPs. The structure and evolution of the LRR domains with non-LRR IRs and their proteins are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Open AccessReview Endoplasmic Reticulum Calcium Pumps and Cancer Cell Differentiation
Biomolecules 2012, 2(1), 165-186; doi:10.3390/biom2010165
Received: 28 January 2012 / Revised: 14 February 2012 / Accepted: 17 February 2012 / Published: 5 March 2012
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (363 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a major intracellular calcium storage pool and a multifunctional organelle that accomplishes several calcium-dependent functions involved in many homeostatic and signaling mechanisms. Calcium is accumulated in the ER by Sarco/Endoplasmic Reticulum Calcium ATPase (SERCA)-type calcium pumps. SERCA [...] Read more.
The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a major intracellular calcium storage pool and a multifunctional organelle that accomplishes several calcium-dependent functions involved in many homeostatic and signaling mechanisms. Calcium is accumulated in the ER by Sarco/Endoplasmic Reticulum Calcium ATPase (SERCA)-type calcium pumps. SERCA activity can determine ER calcium content available for intra-ER functions and for calcium release into the cytosol, and can shape the spatiotemporal characteristics of calcium signals. SERCA function therefore constitutes an important nodal point in the regulation of cellular calcium homeostasis and signaling, and can exert important effects on cell growth, differentiation and survival. In several cell types such as cells of hematopoietic origin, mammary, gastric and colonic epithelium, SERCA2 and SERCA3-type calcium pumps are simultaneously expressed, and SERCA3 expression levels undergo significant changes during cell differentiation, activation or immortalization. In addition, SERCA3 expression is decreased or lost in several tumor types when compared to the corresponding normal tissue. These observations indicate that ER calcium homeostasis is remodeled during cell differentiation, and may present defects due to decreased SERCA3 expression in tumors. Modulation of the state of differentiation of the ER reflected by SERCA3 expression constitutes an interesting new aspect of cell differentiation and tumor biology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Open AccessReview Mortalin, Apoptosis, and Neurodegeneration
Biomolecules 2012, 2(1), 143-164; doi:10.3390/biom2010143
Received: 31 January 2012 / Revised: 22 February 2012 / Accepted: 23 February 2012 / Published: 1 March 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (5589 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Mortalin is a highly conserved heat-shock chaperone usually found in multiple subcellular locations. It has several binding partners and has been implicated in various functions ranging from stress response, control of cell proliferation, and inhibition/prevention of apoptosis. The activity of this protein [...] Read more.
Mortalin is a highly conserved heat-shock chaperone usually found in multiple subcellular locations. It has several binding partners and has been implicated in various functions ranging from stress response, control of cell proliferation, and inhibition/prevention of apoptosis. The activity of this protein involves different structural and functional mechanisms, and minor alterations in its expression level may lead to serious biological consequences, including neurodegeneration. In this article we review the most current data associated with mortalin’s binding partners and how these protein-protein interactions may be implicated in apoptosis and neurodegeneration. A complete understanding of the molecular pathways in which mortalin is involved is important for the development of therapeutic strategies for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Open AccessReview Oxysterols and Their Cellular Effectors
Biomolecules 2012, 2(1), 76-103; doi:10.3390/biom2010076
Received: 29 December 2011 / Revised: 3 February 2012 / Accepted: 7 February 2012 / Published: 15 February 2012
Cited by 25 | PDF Full-text (591 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Oxysterols are oxidized 27-carbon cholesterol derivatives or by-products of cholesterol biosynthesis, with a spectrum of biologic activities. Several oxysterols have cytotoxic and pro-apoptotic activities, the ability to interfere with the lateral domain organization, and packing of membrane lipids. These properties may account [...] Read more.
Oxysterols are oxidized 27-carbon cholesterol derivatives or by-products of cholesterol biosynthesis, with a spectrum of biologic activities. Several oxysterols have cytotoxic and pro-apoptotic activities, the ability to interfere with the lateral domain organization, and packing of membrane lipids. These properties may account for their suggested roles in the pathology of diseases such as atherosclerosis, age-onset macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. Oxysterols also have the capacity to induce inflammatory responses and play roles in cell differentiation processes. The functions of oxysterols as intermediates in the synthesis of bile acids and steroid hormones, and as readily transportable forms of sterol, are well established. Furthermore, their actions as endogenous regulators of gene expression in lipid metabolism via liver X receptors and the Insig (insulin-induced gene) proteins have been investigated in detail. The cytoplasmic oxysterol-binding protein (OSBP) homologues form a group of oxysterol/cholesterol sensors that has recently attracted a lot of attention. However, their mode of action is, as yet, poorly understood. Retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptors (ROR) α and γ, and Epstein-Barr virus induced gene 2 (EBI2) have been identified as novel oxysterol receptors, revealing new physiologic oxysterol effector mechanisms in development, metabolism, and immunity, and evoking enhanced interest in these compounds in the field of biomedicine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Open AccessReview Factor H: A Complement Regulator in Health and Disease, and a Mediator of Cellular Interactions
Biomolecules 2012, 2(1), 46-75; doi:10.3390/biom2010046
Received: 21 December 2011 / Revised: 23 January 2012 / Accepted: 26 January 2012 / Published: 7 February 2012
Cited by 16 | PDF Full-text (653 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Complement is an essential part of innate immunity as it participates in host defense against infections, disposal of cellular debris and apoptotic cells, inflammatory processes and modulation of adaptive immune responses. Several soluble and membrane-bound regulators protect the host from the potentially [...] Read more.
Complement is an essential part of innate immunity as it participates in host defense against infections, disposal of cellular debris and apoptotic cells, inflammatory processes and modulation of adaptive immune responses. Several soluble and membrane-bound regulators protect the host from the potentially deleterious effects of uncontrolled and misdirected complement activation. Factor H is a major soluble regulator of the alternative complement pathway, but it can also bind to host cells and tissues, protecting them from complement attack. Interactions of factor H with various endogenous ligands, such as pentraxins, extracellular matrix proteins and DNA are important in limiting local complement-mediated inflammation. Impaired regulatory as well as ligand and cell recognition functions of factor H, caused by mutations or autoantibodies, are associated with the kidney diseases: atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome and dense deposit disease and the eye disorder: age-related macular degeneration. In addition, factor H binds to receptors on host cells and is involved in adhesion, phagocytosis and modulation of cell activation. In this review we discuss current concepts on the physiological and pathophysiological roles of factor H in light of new data and recent developments in our understanding of the versatile roles of factor H as an inhibitor of complement activation and inflammation, as well as a mediator of cellular interactions. A detailed knowledge of the functions of factor H in health and disease is expected to unravel novel therapeutic intervention possibilities and to facilitate the development or improvement of therapies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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Open AccessReview Comparative Studies of Vertebrate Beta Integrin Genes and Proteins: Ancient Genes in Vertebrate Evolution
Biomolecules 2011, 1(1), 3-31; doi:10.3390/biom1010003
Received: 18 July 2011 / Revised: 14 August 2011 / Accepted: 15 August 2011 / Published: 23 August 2011
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1277 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Intregins are heterodimeric α- and β-subunit containing membrane receptor proteins which serve various cell adhesion roles in tissue repair, hemostasis, immune response, embryogenesis and metastasis. At least 18 α- (ITA or ITGA) and 8 β-integrin subunits (ITB or ITGB) are encoded on [...] Read more.
Intregins are heterodimeric α- and β-subunit containing membrane receptor proteins which serve various cell adhesion roles in tissue repair, hemostasis, immune response, embryogenesis and metastasis. At least 18 α- (ITA or ITGA) and 8 β-integrin subunits (ITB or ITGB) are encoded on mammalian genomes. Comparative ITB amino acid sequences and protein structures and ITB gene locations were examined using data from several vertebrate genome projects. Vertebrate ITB genes usually contained 13–16 coding exons and encoded protein subunits with ~800 amino acids, whereas vertebrate ITB4 genes contained 36-39 coding exons and encoded larger proteins with ~1800 amino acids. The ITB sequences exhibited several conserved domains including signal peptide, extracellular β-integrin, β-tail domain and integrin β-cytoplasmic domains. Sequence alignments of the integrin β-cytoplasmic domains revealed highly conserved regions possibly for performing essential functions and its maintenance during vertebrate evolution. With the exception of the human ITB8 sequence, the other ITB sequences shared a predicted 19 residue α-helix for this region. Potential sites for regulating human ITB gene expression were identified which included CpG islands, transcription factor binding sites and microRNA binding sites within the 3’-UTR of human ITB genes. Phylogenetic analyses examined the relationships of vertebrate beta-integrin genes which were consistent with four major groups: 1: ITB1, ITB2, ITB7; 2: ITB3, ITB5, ITB6; 3: ITB4; and 4: ITB8 and a common evolutionary origin from an ancestral gene, prior to the appearance of fish during vertebrate evolution. The phylogenetic analyses revealed that ITB4 is the most likely primordial form of the vertebrate β integrin subunit encoding genes, that is the only β subunit expressed as a constituent of the sole integrin receptor ‘α6β4’ in the hemidesmosomes of unicellular organisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
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