During the screening of a zebrafish postsomitogenesis embryo cDNA library, we have identified a cDNA corresponding to a novel type of protein localized to the notochordal sheath-associated extracellular matrix (ECM) of the embryo. The 4.049-kb mRNA encodes a predicted polypeptide of 1,207 amino acids (122 kDa, pI 10.50) with a potential signal peptide of 20 amino acids. After the signal peptide, the mature protein consists of 1,187 amino acids (119 kDa, pI 10.46), for which the name "Calymmin" (from Greek chialphalambdanumumualpha, to envelop, to cover) is proposed. The Calymmin mRNA is highly and transiently expressed by the notochord cells of the embryo from the 10- to 12-somite stage to the pharyngula period (13 and 24 hours postfertilization, respectively), and light and electron microscopical immunolocalization analysis revealed that the protein was specifically localized within a granular and filamentous layer of the ECM compartment surrounding the notochord. In zebrafish no tail mutants (ntl(tc41)), in which the notochord precursor cells are present but fail to differentiate, the Calymmin protein was not detected, confirming the notochord origin of Calymmin. These results indicate that Calymmin is a novel constitutive protein of the ECM compartment associated to the perinotochordal sheath in the zebrafish embryo, which is specifically expressed by the differentiating notochord cells.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.