The cortex of ciliates, dinoflagellates, and euglenoids comprises a unique structure called the epiplasm, implicated in pattern-forming processes of the cell cortex and in maintaining cell shape. Articulins, a novel class of cytoskeletal proteins, are major constituents of the epiplasm in the flagellate Euglena gracilis and the ciliate Pseudomicrothorax dubius. The hallmark of articulins is a core domain of repetitive motifs of alternating valine and proline residues, the VPV-motif. The VPV-motif repeats are 12 residues long. Positively and negatively charged residues segregate in register with valine and proline positions. The VPV-motif is unique to articulins. The terminal domains flanking the core are generally hydrophobic and contain a series of hexa- or heptapeptide repeats rich in glycine and hydrophobic residues. Using molecular and immunological tools we show that articulins are also present in the dinoflagellate Amphidinium carterae and the ciliates Paramecium tetraurelia and Paramecium caudatum, Tetrahymena pyriformis, and Euplotes aediculatus. Our analysis further shows that epiplasmins, a group of epiplasmic proteins first characterized in Paramecium, are also present in all these species. Moreover, we present evidence that epiplasmins and articulins represent two distinct classes of cytoskeletal proteins.
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Vol. 50 • No. 1