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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Gene organization, evolution and expression of the microtubule-associated protein ASAP (MAP9)

Magali Venoux1, Karine Delmouly2, Ollivier Milhavet2, Sophie Vidal-Eychenié1, Dominique Giorgi1 and Sylvie Rouquier1*

Author Affiliations

1 Groupe Microtubules et Cycle Cellulaire, Institut de Génétique Humaine, CNRS UPR 1142, rue de la cardonille, 34396 Montpellier cédex 5, France

2 Groupe Pathologies neurologiques et cellules souches, Institut de Génétique Humaine, CNRS UPR 1142, rue de la cardonille, 34396 Montpellier cédex 5, France

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:406  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-406

Published: 9 September 2008

Abstract

Background

ASAP is a newly characterized microtubule-associated protein (MAP) essential for proper cell-cycling. We have previously shown that expression deregulation of human ASAP results in profound defects in mitotic spindle formation and mitotic progression leading to aneuploidy, cytokinesis defects and/or cell death. In the present work we analyze the structure and evolution of the ASAP gene, as well as the domain composition of the encoded protein. Mouse and Xenopus cDNAs were cloned, the tissue expression characterized and the overexpression profile analyzed.

Results

Bona fide ASAP orthologs are found in vertebrates with more distantly related potential orthologs in invertebrates. This single-copy gene is conserved in mammals where it maps to syntenic chromosomal regions, but is also clearly identified in bird, fish and frog. The human gene is strongly expressed in brain and testis as a 2.6 Kb transcript encoding a ~110 KDa protein. The protein contains MAP, MIT-like and THY domains in the C-terminal part indicative of microtubule interaction, while the N-terminal part is more divergent. ASAP is composed of ~42% alpha helical structures, and two main coiled-coil regions have been identified. Different sequence features may suggest a role in DNA damage response. As with human ASAP, the mouse and Xenopus proteins localize to the microtubule network in interphase and to the mitotic spindle during mitosis. Overexpression of the mouse protein induces mitotic defects similar to those observed in human. In situ hybridization in testis localized ASAP to the germ cells, whereas in culture neurons ASAP localized to the cell body and growing neurites.

Conclusion

The conservation of ASAP indicated in our results reflects an essential function in vertebrates. We have cloned the ASAP orthologs in mouse and Xenopus, two valuable models to study the function of ASAP. Tissue expression of ASAP revealed a high expression in brain and testis, two tissues rich in microtubules. ASAP associates to the mitotic spindle and cytoplasmic microtubules, and represents a key factor of mitosis with possible involvement in other cell cycle processes. It may have a role in spermatogenesis and also represents a potential new target for antitumoral drugs. Possible involvement in neuron dynamics also highlights ASAP as a candidate target in neurodegenerative diseases.