The p53 protein and its negative regulator the ubiquitin E3 ligase Mdm2 have been shown to be conserved from the T. adhaerens to man. In common with D. melanogaster and C. elegans, there is a single copy of the p53 gene in T. adhaerens, while in the vertebrates three p53-like genes can be found: p53, p63 and p73. The Mdm2 gene is not present within the fully sequenced and highly annotated genomes of C. elegans and D. melanogaster. However, it is present in Placazoanand the presence of multiple distinct p53 genes in the Sea anemone N. vectensis led us to examine the genomes of other phyla for p53 and Mdm2-like genes. We report here the discovery of an Mdm2-like gene and two distinct p53-like genes in the Arachnid Ioxodes scapularis (Northern Deer Tick). The two predicted Deer Tick p53 proteins are much more highly related to the human p53 protein in sequence than are the fruit fly and nematode proteins. One of the Deer Tick genes encodes a p53 protein that is initiated within the DNA binding domain of p53 and shows remarkable homology to the newly described N-terminally truncated delta isoforms of human and zebrafish p53.
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