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Open Access Research article

The DUB/USP17 deubiquitinating enzymes: A gene family within a tandemly repeated sequence, is also embedded within the copy number variable Beta-defensin cluster

James F Burrows12*, Christopher J Scott2 and James A Johnston1

Author affiliations

1 Centre for Infection and Immunity, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland

2 Molecular Therapeutics, School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences, Queen's University, Belfast, Northern Ireland

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2010, 11:250  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-250

Published: 19 April 2010

Abstract

Background

The DUB/USP17 subfamily of deubiquitinating enzymes were originally identified as immediate early genes induced in response to cytokine stimulation in mice (DUB-1, DUB-1A, DUB-2, DUB-2A). Subsequently we have identified a number of human family members and shown that one of these (DUB-3) is also cytokine inducible. We originally showed that constitutive expression of DUB-3 can block cell proliferation and more recently we have demonstrated that this is due to its regulation of the ubiquitination and activity of the 'CAAX' box protease RCE1.

Results

Here we demonstrate that the human DUB/USP17 family members are found on both chromosome 4p16.1, within a block of tandem repeats, and on chromosome 8p23.1, embedded within the copy number variable beta-defensin cluster. In addition, we show that the multiple genes observed in humans and other distantly related mammals have arisen due to the independent expansion of an ancestral sequence within each species. However, it is also apparent when sequences from humans and the more closely related chimpanzee are compared, that duplication events have taken place prior to these species separating.

Conclusions

The observation that the DUB/USP17 genes, which can influence cell growth and survival, have evolved from an unstable ancestral sequence which has undergone multiple and varied duplications in the species examined marks this as a unique family. In addition, their presence within the beta-defensin repeat raises the question whether they may contribute to the influence of this repeat on immune related conditions.