Phylogenetic occurrence of coiled coil proteins: implications for tissue structure in metazoa via a coiled coil tissue matrix

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Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Department of Cell Biology

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Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


We examined GenBank sequence files with a heptad repeat analysis program to assess the phylogenetic occurrence of coiled coil proteins, how heptad repeat domains are organized within them, and what structural/functional categories they comprise. Of 102,007 proteins analyzed, 5.95% (6,074) contained coiled coil domains; 1.26% (1,289) contained "extended" (> 75 amino acid) domains. While the frequency of proteins containing coiled coils was surprisingly constant among all biota, extended coiled coil proteins were fourfold more frequent in the animal kingdom and may reflect early events in the divergence of plants and animals. Structure/function categories of extended coils also revealed phylogenetic differences. In pathogens and parasites, many extended coiled coil proteins are external and bind host proteins. In animals, the majority of extended coiled coil proteins were identified as constituents of two protein categories: 1) myosins and motors; or 2) components of the nuclear matrix-intermediate filament scaffold. This scaffold, produced by sequential extraction of epithelial monolayers in situ, contains only 1-2% of the cell mass while accurately retaining morphological features of living epithelium and is greatly enriched in proteins with extensive, interrupted coiled coil forming domains. The increased occurrence of this type of protein in metazoa compared with plants or protists leads us to hypothesize a tissue-wide matrix of coiled coil interactions underlying metazoan differentiated cell and tissue structure.

DOI of Published Version



Proteins. 1996 Apr;24(4):467-84. Link to article on publisher's site

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