Calcium ions and calcium-binding proteins play a major role in many cellular processes, in particular skeletogenesis and bone formation. We report here the discovery of a novel S100 protein in fish and the analysis of its gene expression patterns. A 648-bp full-length cDNA encoding an 86-amino acid S100-like calcium-binding protein was identified through the subtractive hybridization of a gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) cDNA library constructed to identify genes associated with in vitro mineralization. Deduced protein lacks an identifiable signal peptide and exhibits two EF-hand motifs characteristic of S100 proteins. Phylogenetic and bioinformatic analyses of S100 sequences suggested that gilthead seabream protein represents a novel and fish-specific member of the S100 protein family. Expression of S100-like gene was up-regulated during the in vitro mineralization of bone-derived cell lines and during seabream development, from larvae throughout adulthood, reflecting skeletogenesis. Restriction of S100-like gene expression to chondrocytes of cartilaginous tissues undergoing endo/perichondral mineralization in juvenile fish further confirmed the mineralogenic role of the protein in fish and emphasized the potential of S100-like as a marker of mineralizing cartilage in developing fish.
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