The hemolymph clottable protein (CP) of Marsupenaeus japonica (designated as Mj-CP) was purified by a DEAE anion-exchanger and a Sepharose CL-6B gel filtration column. In the presence of Ca2+, it formed stable clots in vitro upon the addition of the hemocytes lysate containing transglutaminase. Results of gel filtration chromatography and SDS-PAGE indicated that Mj-CP mainly existed as disulfide-linked homodimers of 390 kDa. Specific primers were designed; PCR as well as RACE help to clone and sequence Mj-CP cDNA of 5660 bp. The predicted CP-precursor contains a signal peptide followed by a subunit of 1671 amino acids (isoelectric point 5.6), including two RGD motifs and three potential N-glycosylation sites. Mj-CP is structurally 80% and 38% identical to the CPs of tiger shrimp and crayfish, respectively. Likewise, CP cDNA of white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) was also cloned and sequenced; the predicted CP has 1666 amino acid residues and an isoelectric point of 5.2. Both CPs bear potential transglutaminase cross-linking sites, i.e. seven Ser-Lys-Thr repeats near the N-terminus, a Ser- and Gln-rich region in the middle, and polyGln (n=8-11) near the C-terminus. Phylogenetic analyses of crustacean CPs and vitellogenins revealed divergent evolution of the two protein families. By RT-PCR, the sub-cuticular epidermis was identified as one of the major tissues that express CP in M. japonica.
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