Background: 14-3-3 proteins have been implicated in many signalling mechanisms due to their interaction with Ser/Thr phosphorylated target proteins. They are evolutionarily well conserved in eukaryotic organisms from single celled protozoans and unicellular algae to plants and humans. A diverse array of target proteins has been found in higher plants and in human cell lines including proteins involved in cellular metabolism, apoptosis, cytoskeletal organisation, secretion and Ca2+ signalling.
Results: We found that the simple metazoan Hydra has four 14-3-3 isoforms. In order to investigate whether the diversity of 14-3-3 target proteins is also conserved over the whole animal kingdom we isolated 14-3-3 binding proteins from Hydra vulgaris using a 14-3-3- affinity column. We identified 23 proteins that covered most of the above-mentioned groups. We also isolated several novel 14-3-3 binding proteins and the Hydra specific secreted fascin-domain-containing protein PPOD. In addition, we demonstrated that one of the 14-3-3 isoforms, 14-3-3 HyA, interacts with one Hydra-Bcl-2 like protein in vitro.
Conclusion: Our results indicate that 14-3-3 proteins have been ubiquitous signalling components since the start of metazoan evolution. We also discuss the possibility that they are involved in the regulation of cell numbers in response to food supply in Hydra.