Annexin-like alpha giardins: a new cytoskeletal gene family in Giardia lamblia
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Through a genome survey and phylogenetic analysis, we have identified and sequenced 14 new coding regions for alpha-giardins in Giardia lamblia. These proteins are related to annexins and comprise a multi-gene family with 21 members. Many alpha giardins are highly expressed proteins that are very immunogenic during acute giardiasis in humans. However, little is known about the function of these proteins. By using PCR with different combinations of gene-specific primers, we demonstrated that several of the genes localised to the same chromosomal fragment. These data point towards a molecular evolution through gene duplication and subsequent functional divergence. Semi-quantitative reverse transcriptase-PCR analysis of the Giardia life cycle revealed large differences in mRNA expression levels of the alpha giardins. Epitope tagging of the alpha-giardins localised them to different cytoskeletal components, such as the flagella and the adhesive disc, but also to the plasma membrane. These localisation experiments suggest alpha-giardins play a role in cell motility, attachment and membrane stability.
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