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Open Access Research article

Mesothelin, Stereocilin, and Otoancorin are predicted to have superhelical structures with ARM-type repeats

Bangalore K Sathyanarayana1, Yoonsoo Hahn12, Manish S Patankar3, Ira Pastan1 and Byungkook Lee1*

  • * Corresponding author: Byungkook Lee

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4264, USA

2 Department of Life Science, College of Natural Science, Chung-Ang University, Seoul 156-756, South Korea

3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA

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BMC Structural Biology 2009, 9:1  doi:10.1186/1472-6807-9-1

Published: 7 January 2009



Mesothelin is a 40 kDa protein present on the surface of normal mesothelial cells and overexpressed in many human tumours, including mesothelioma and ovarian and pancreatic adenocarcinoma. It forms a strong and specific complex with MUC16, which is also highly expressed on the surface of mesothelioma and ovarian cancer cells. This binding has been suggested to be the basis of ovarian cancer metastasis. Knowledge of the structure of this protein will be useful, for example, in building a structural model of the MUC16-mesothelin complex. Mesothelin is produced as a precursor, which is cleaved by furin to produce the N-terminal half, which is called the megakaryocyte potentiating factor (MPF), and the C-terminal half, which is mesothelin. Little is known about the function of mesothelin and there is no information on its possible three-dimensional structure. Mesothelin has been reported to be homologous to the deafness-related inner ear proteins otoancorin and stereocilin, for neither of which the three-dimensional structure is known.


The BLAST and PSI-BLAST searches confirmed that mesothelin and mesothelin precursor proteins are remotely homologous to stereocilin and otoancorin and more closely homologous to the hypothetical protein MPFL (MPF-like). Secondary structure prediction servers predicted a predominantly helical structure for both mesothelin and mesothelin precursor proteins and also for stereocilin and otoancorin. Three-dimensional structure prediction servers INHUB and I-TASSER produced structural models for mesothelin, which consisted of superhelical structures with ARM-type repeats in conformity with the secondary structure predictions. Similar ARM-type superhelical repeat structures were predicted by 3D-PSSM server for mesothelin precursor and for stereocilin and otoancorin proteins.


The mesothelin superfamily of proteins, which includes mesothelin, mesothelin precursor, megakaryocyte potentiating factor, MPFL, stereocilin and otoancorin, are predicted to have superhelical structures with ARM-type repeats. We suggest that all of these function as superhelical lectins to bind the carbohydrate moieties of extracellular glycoproteins.