Wider than Thought Phylogenetic Occurrence of Apicortin, A Characteristic Protein of Apicomplexan Parasites

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Apicomplexan parasites cause serious illnesses, including malaria, in humans and domestic animals. The presence of apicortins is predominantly characteristic of this phylum. All the apicomplexan species sequenced contain an apicortin which unites two conserved domains: DCX and partial p25alpha. This paper identifies novel apicortin orthologs in silico and corrects in several cases the erroneous sequences of hypothetical apicortin proteins of Cryptosporidium, Eimeria, and Theileria genera published in databases. Plasmodium apicortins, except from Plasmodium gallinaceum, differ significantly from the other apicomplexan apicortins. The feature of this ortholog suggests that only orthologs of Plasmodiums hosted by mammals altered significantly. The free-living Chromerida, Chromera velia, and Vitrella brassicaformis, contain three paralogs. Their apicomplexan-type and nonapicomplexan-type apicortins might be “outparalogs.” The fungal ortholog, Rozella allomycis, found at protein level, and the algal Nitella mirabilis, found as Transcriptome Shotgun Assembly (TSA), are similar to the known Opisthokont (Trichoplax adhaerens, Spizellomyces punctatus) and Viridiplantae (Nicotiana tabacum) ones, since they do not contain the long, unstructured N-terminal part present in apicomplexan apicortins. A few eumetazoan animals possess apicortin-like (partial) sequences at TSA level, which may be either contaminations or the result of horizontal gene transfer; in some cases the contamination has been proved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-314
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Apicomplexa
  • Chromerida
  • DCX domain
  • Genetic contamination
  • Intrinsically disordered protein
  • p25alpha domain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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