The annexins are a structurally related family of Ca2+ and phospholipid binding proteins whose function has not been clearly defined. Further investigations of annexin function may be enhanced by studying simpler organisms that express fewer annexin gene products. We previously characterized annexin XII from the freshwater cnidarian Hydra vulgaris (Schlaepfer, D. D., D. A. Fisher, M. E. Brandt, H. R. Bode, J. Jones, and H. T. Haigler. 1992. J. Biol. Chem. 267:9529-9539). In this report, we detected one other hydra annexin (40 kD) by screening hydra cell extracts with antibodies raised against peptides from highly conserved regions of known annexins. The 40-kD protein was expressed at less than 1% of annexin XII levels. These biochemical studies indicate that hydra contain a very limited number of annexin gene products. The cellular hydra annexin distribution was analyzed by indirect immunofluorescence. Using affinity-purified antibodies to annexin XII, the epithelial battery cells were stained throughout the tentacle. A lower level of annexin XII staining was detected in peduncle region epithelial cells. No other cell types showed detectable annexin XII staining. The anti-peptide antibody that specifically detected the 40-kD hydra annexin, maximally stained the cytoplasm of nematocytes. The immunofluorescent results showed that annexin XII and the 40-kD annexin were not co-expressed in the same cells. Since the hydra annexins localized to specific subsets of the total hydra cell types, it is likely that these proteins perform specialized biological roles, and not general "housekeeping" functions which are part of the essential molecular machinery of all cells.

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