Background: Carbonic anhydrases (CAs) are found in many organisms, in which they contribute to several important biological processes. The vertebrate alpha-CA family consists of 16 subfamilies, three of which (VIII, X and XI) consist of acatalytic proteins. These are named carbonic anhydrase related proteins (CARPs), and their inactivity is due to absence of one or more Zn-binding histidine residues. In this study, we analyzed and evaluated the distribution of genes encoding CARPs in different organisms using bioinformatic methods, and studied their expression in mouse tissues using immunohistochemistry and real-time quantitative PCR.
Results: We collected 84 sequences, of which 22 came from novel or improved gene models which we created from genome data. The distribution of CARP VIII covers vertebrates and deuterostomes, and CARP X appears to be universal in the animal kingdom. CA10-like genes have had a separate history of duplications in the tetrapod and fish lineages. Our phylogenetic analysis showed that duplication of CA10 into CA11 has occurred only in tetrapods (found in mammals, frogs, and lizards), whereas an independent duplication of CA10 was found in fishes. We suggest the name CA10b for the second fish isoform. Immunohistochemical analysis showed a high expression level of CARP VIII in the mouse cerebellum, cerebrum, and also moderate expression in the lung, liver, salivary gland, and stomach. These results also demonstrated low expression in the colon, kidney, and Langerhans islets. CARP X was moderately expressed in the cerebral capillaries and the lung and very weakly in the stomach and heart. Positive signals for CARP XI were observed in the cerebellum, cerebrum, liver, stomach, small intestine, colon, kidney, and testis. In addition, the results of real-time quantitative PCR confirmed a wide distribution for the Car8 and Car11 mRNAs, whereas the expression of the Car10 mRNA was restricted to the frontal cortex, parietal cortex, cerebellum, midbrain, and eye.
Conclusions: CARP sequences have been strongly conserved between different species, and all three CARPs show high expression in the mouse brain and CARP VIII is also expressed in several other tissues. These findings suggest an important functional role for these proteins in mammals.