Springer Verlag, The Science of Nature, 7(99), p. 537-543
Mast syndrome is a complicated form of human hereditary spastic paraplegias, caused by a mutation in the gene acid cluster protein 33, which encodes a protein designated as "maspardin." Maspardin presents similarity to the alpha/beta-hydrolase superfamily, but might lack enzymatic activity and rather be involved in protein-protein interactions. Association with the vesicles of the endosomal network also suggested that maspardin may be involved in the sorting and/or trafficking of molecules in the endosomal pathway, a crucial process for maintenance of neuron health. Despite a high conservation in living organisms, studies of maspardin in other animal species than mammals were lacking. In the cotton armyworm Spodoptera littoralis, an insect pest model, analysis of an expressed sequence tag collection from antenna, the olfactory organ, has allowed identifying a maspardin homolog (SlMasp). We have investigated SlMasp tissue distribution and temporal expression by PCR and in situ hybridization techniques. Noteworthy, we found that maspardin was highly expressed in antennae and associated with the structures specialized in odorant detection. We have, in addition, identified maspardin sequences in numerous "nonmammalian" species and described here their phylogenetic analysis in the context of metazoan diversity. We observed a strong conservation of maspardin in metazoans, with surprisingly two independent losses of this gene in two relatively distant ecdysozoan taxa that include major model organisms, i.e., dipterans and nematodes.