, Volume 226, Issue 3, pp 719–727 | Cite as

A small cysteine-rich extracellular protein, VCRP, is inducible by the sex-inducer of Volvox carteri and by wounding

  • Armin Hallmann
Original Article


The green alga Volvox carteri represents one of the simplest multicellular organisms: it is composed of only two cell types, somatic and reproductive. Volvox is capable of both vegetative and sexual reproduction. Sexual development of males and females is triggered by a sex-inducer at concentrations as low as 10−16 M. By differential screenings of cDNA libraries, a novel gene was identified that is under the control of this sex-inducer and that encodes a small cysteine-rich extracellular protein, named VCRP. Analysis of the VCRP polypeptide sequence suggests ten disulfide bonds and a dimetal-binding capacity. VCRP mRNA is detectable in males and females ∼1 h after the spheroids’ first contact with the sex-inducer, but transcription is restricted to the somatic cell-type. mRNA and protein synthesis is triggered not only by the sex-inducer, but also by wounding. VCRP does not share significant sequence similarity with any known protein sequence, but a potential EGF-like calcium-binding motif and a potential plant metallothionein family-15 motif have been identified. The characteristics of VCRP suggest a function as a signal transducer molecule, an extracellular second messenger from somatic cells to reproductive cells, or a role within the stress response.


Cell wall Extracellular matrix Green algae Sex-inducer Sex-inducing pheromone Volvocaceae 



Basic local alignment search tool


Cysteine-rich secretory protein


DiAminoacid Neural Network Application


Extracellular matrix


Rapid amplification of cDNA ends


Reactive oxygen species


Structural classification of proteins


Cysteine-rich extracellular protein from Volvox



I wish to thank Dr. A. Wymann for assistance in the planning and realization of the Northern blot analyses and K. Puls for technical support. This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 521).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology of PlantsUniversity of BielefeldBielefeldGermany

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