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Various novel proteins have been identified from many kinds of mollusk shells. Although such matrix proteins are believed to play important roles in the calcium carbonate crystal formation of shells, no common proteins that interact with calcium carbonate or that are involved in the molecular mechanisms behind shell formation have been identified. Pif consists of two proteins, Pif 80 and Pif 97, which are encoded by a single mRNA. Pif 80 was identified as a key acidic protein that regulates the formation of the nacreous layer in Pinctada fucata, while Pif 97 has von Willebrand factor type A (VWA) and chitin-binding domains. In this study, we identified Pif homologues from Pinctada margaritifera, Pinctada maxima, Pteria penguin, Mytilus galloprovincialis, and in the genome database of Lottia gigantea in order to compare their primary protein sequences. The VWA and chitin-binding domains are conserved in all Pif 97 homologues, whereas the amino acid sequences of the Pif 80 regions differ markedly among the species. Sequence alignment revealed the presence of a novel significantly conserved sequence between the chitin-binding domain and the C-terminus of Pif 97. Further examination of the Pif 80 regions suggested that they share a sequence that is similar to the laminin G domain. These results indicate that all Pif molecules in bivalves and gastropods may be derived from a common ancestral gene. These comparisons may shed light on the correlation between molecular evolution and morphology in mollusk shell microstructure.


Michio Suzuki, Ai Iwashima, Mariko Kimura, Toshihiro Kogure, Hiromichi Nagasawa. The molecular evolution of the pif family proteins in various species of mollusks. Marine biotechnology (New York, N.Y.). 2013 Apr;15(2):145-58

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PMID: 22847736

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