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Distant homologs of anti-apoptotic factor HAX1 encode parvalbumin-like calcium binding proteins

Katarzyna Kokoszyńska1, Leszek Rychlewski2 and Lucjan S Wyrwicz1*

Author Affiliations

1 Maria Sklodowska-Curie Memorial Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology, Roentgena 5, 02-781 Warsaw, Poland

2 BioInfoBank Institute, Limanowskiego 24A, 60-744 Poznań, Poland

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:197  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-197

Published: 15 July 2010



Apoptosis is a highly ordered and orchestrated multiphase process controlled by the numerous cellular and extra-cellular signals, which executes the programmed cell death via release of cytochrome c alterations in calcium signaling, caspase-dependent limited proteolysis and DNA fragmentation. Besides the general modifiers of apoptosis, several tissue-specific regulators of this process were identified including HAX1 (HS-1 associated protein X-1) - an anti-apoptotic factor active in myeloid cells. Although HAX1 was the subject of various experimental studies, the mechanisms of its action and a functional link connected with the regulation of apoptosis still remains highly speculative.


Here we provide the data which suggests that HAX1 may act as a regulator or as a sensor of calcium. On the basis of iterative similarity searches, we identified a set of distant homologs of HAX1 in insects. The applied fold recognition protocol gives us strong evidence that the distant insects' homologs of HAX1 are novel parvalbumin-like calcium binding proteins. Although the whole three EF-hands fold is not preserved in vertebrate our analysis suggests that there is an existence of a potential single EF-hand calcium binding site in HAX1. The molecular mechanism of its action remains to be identified, but the risen hypothesis easily translates into previously reported lines of various data on the HAX1 biology as well as, provides us a direct link to the regulation of apoptosis. Moreover, we also report that other family of myeloid specific apoptosis regulators - myeloid leukemia factors (MLF1, MLF2) share the homologous C-terminal domain and taxonomic distribution with HAX1.


Performed structural and active sites analyses gave new insights into mechanisms of HAX1 and MLF families in apoptosis process and suggested possible role of HAX1 in calcium-binding, still the analyses require further experimental verification.