Eukaryotic and prokaryotic stomatins: the proteolytic link.
Green JB., Fricke B., Chetty MC., von Düring M., Preston GF., Stewart GW.
The 32kD membrane protein stomatin was first studied because it is deficient from the red cell membrane in two forms of the class of haemolytic anaemias known as "hereditary stomatocytosis." The hallmark of these conditions is a plasma membrane leak to the monovalent cations Na+ and K+: the protein is missing only in the most severely leaky of these conditions. No mutation has ever been found in the stomatin gene in these conditions. Stomatin-like proteins have been identified in all three domains of biology, yet their function remains enigmatic. Although the murine knock-out is without phenotype, we have identified a family showing a splicing defect in the stomatin mRNA, in which affected children showed a catastrophic multisystem disease not inconsistent with the now-known wide tissue distribution of stomatin. We report here a study of strongly homologous stomatin-like genes in prokaryotes, which reveals a close connection with a never-studied gene erroneously known as "nfed." This gene codes for a hydrophobic protein with a probable serine protease motif. It is possible that these stomatin-like genes and those which are known as"nfed" form an operon, suggesting that the two protein products are aimed at a common function. The corollary is that stomatin could be a partner protein for a membrane-bound proteolytic process, in both prokaryotes and in eukaryotes generally: this idea is consistent with experimental evidence.