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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Evolution of the prohormone convertases: identification of a homologue of PC6 in the protochordate amphioxus.

Many of the protein precursors traversing the secretory pathway undergo cleavage at multibasic sites to generate their bioactive forms. The proprotein convertases (PCs), a family of subtilisin-like proteases, are the major endoproteases that serve this function. Genes encoding seven distinct members of this family have so far been characterized in vertebrates: furin, PC2, PC1/PC3, PC4, PACE4, PC5/PC6 and PC7/PC8/LPC. Multiple PC genes have also been cloned from a number of invertebrates, including Drosophila melanogaster and Caenorhabditis elegans. These findings suggest that gene duplication and diversification of the PCs have occurred throughout metazoan evolution. To investigate the structural and functional changes which have occurred during vertebrate development, we have analyzed the expression of PC genes in the protochordate amphioxus. We have previously shown that amphioxus express homologous PC2 and PC1/PC3 genes [Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 92 (1995) 3591]. Here we report the characterization of amphioxus cDNAs encoding proteases with a high degree of similarity to mammalian PC6. Three cDNAs encoding three PC6 isoforms differing only in their carboxy-terminal sequences were found, derived by alternative splicing. Two isoforms appear to be soluble enzymes, whereas the third contains a transmembrane hydrophobic segment and thus is likely to be membrane-bound. All three variants contain many repeats of a cysteine-rich motif that is found in several other PC family members. Thus, amphioxus, like the vertebrates, expresses two types of PCs, e.g., PC2 and PC1/PC3 which function in the regulated secretory pathway in neuroendocrine cells, and the more widely expressed PC6 which functions mainly in the constitutive pathway.[1]


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