Pentraxins (PTXs) are a superfamily of multifunctional conserved proteins, some of which are components of the humoral arm of innate immunity and behave as functional ancestors of Abs. They are divided into short (C-reactive protein and serum amyloid P component) and long pentraxins (PTX3 and neuronal pentraxins). Based on a search for pentraxin domain-containing sequences in databases, a phylogenetic analysis of the pentraxin family from mammals to arthropods was conducted. This effort resulted in the identification of a new long pentraxin (PTX4) conserved from mammals to lower vertebrates, which clusters alone in phylogenetic analysis. The results indicated that the pentraxins consist of five clusters: short pentraxins, which can be found in chordate and arthropods; neuronal pentraxins; the prototypic long pentraxin PTX3, which originated very early at the divergence of the vertebrates; the Drosophila pentraxin-like protein B6; and the long pentraxin PTX4 discovered in this study. Conservation of flanking genes in mammalian evolution indicates maintenance of synteny. Analysis of PTX4, in silico and by transcript expression, shows that the gene is well conserved from mammals to lower vertebrates and has a unique pattern of mRNA expression. Thus, PTX4 is a new unique member of the pentraxin superfamily, conserved in evolution.
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