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Cloning of a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored alpha-2-macroglobulin cDNA from the ascidian, Ciona intestinalis, and its possible role in immunity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


JA Hammond, M Nakao, Valerie Jane Smith

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Molecular approaches were used to study thiolester-containing genes in the ascidian, Ciona intestinalis. RT-PCR, RACE and genome mining revealed that this animal expresses not only conventional alpha-2-macroglobulin (alpha 2m) and two forms of C3 but also a gene encoding a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored alpha 2m. Previously, GPI-anchored alpha 2ms have been reported only for humans and mice. We propose that GPI-anchored a2ms constitute a third subgroup of the a2m superfamily and may represent an important evolutionary stage in the phylogeny of the thiolester containing proteins. Its occurrence in an ascidian shows its origin pre-dates the evolution of the vertebrates. In C. intestinalis this GPI-anchored a2m, designated Ciona alpha 2m-GPI, is expressed in the hepatopancreas, circulating coelomic blood cells and the ut of adults. It is also expressed in 3-5 days old larvae. Its tissue distribution coupled with its sequence characteristics and unusual domain structure indicate that the encoded protein probably assists in host defence by entrapping and inhibiting proteases from micro-organisms. (c) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-694
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Immunology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005

    Research areas

  • alpha-2-macroglobulin, glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchorage, thiolester-containing proteins, Ascidian, Ciona, innate immunity, ALPHA-MACROGLOBULIN RECEPTOR, HUMAN T-CELLS, COMPLEMENT-SYSTEM, CONTAINING PROTEINS, ALPHA(2)-MACROGLOBULIN, EVOLUTION, IDENTIFICATION, THIOESTER, PLATELETS, BINDING

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