The Nme gene/protein family of nucleoside diphosphate kinases (NDPK) was originally named after its member Nm23-H1/Nme1, the first identified metastasis suppressor. Human Nme proteins are divided in two groups. They all possess nucleoside diphosphate kinase domain (NDK). Group I (Nme1-Nme4) display a single type NDK domain, whereas Group II (Nme5-Nme9) display a single or several different NDK domains, associated or not associated with extra-domains. Data strongly suggest that, unlike Group I, none of the members of Group II display measurable NDPK activity, although some of them autophosphorylate. The multimeric form is required for the NDPK activity. Group I proteins are known to multimerize, while there are no data on the multimerization of Group II proteins. The Group II ancestral type protein was shown to be conserved in several species from three eukaryotic supergroups. Here, we analysed the Nme protein from an early branching eukaryotic lineage, the red alga Chondrus crispus
. We show that the ancestral type protein, unlike its human homologue, was fully functional multimeric NDPK with high affinity to various types of DNA and dispersed localization throughout the eukaryotic cell. Its overexpression inhibits both cell proliferation and the anchorage-independent growth of cells in soft agar but fails to deregulate cell apoptosis. We conclude that the ancestral gene has changed during eukaryotic evolution, possibly in correlation with the protein function.
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