Apicomplexan apicortins possess a long disordered N-terminal extension
A new protein, termed apicortin, has recently been identified, which occurs only in the placozoan animal Trichoplax adhaerens and in the genomes of all currently sequenced apicomplexan parasites (e.g., Toxoplasma, Plasmodium, etc.). Apicortins unite two conserved domains, a DCX motif and a partial p25alpha sequence, which are singly found in diverse other proteins, in doublecortins and TPPPs, respectively. Here I show that although apicortin has a limited phylogenomic distribution, its occurrence is broader than thought previously. It has been identified in another primitive opisthokont, in the chytrid fungus, Spizellomyces punctatus. Apicortins can be divided into two subgroups: apicomplexan and non-apicomplexan ones. The main difference is that the former ones possess a long, N-terminal extension predicted to be disordered, which is missing in the other subgroup. The appearance of the extension in apicomplexan apicortins is an "innovation" of this phylum, and may play a functional role in the protein-protein interactions. (C) 2011 Elsevier BM. All rights reserved.