Oocytes of the echiuroid, Urechis caupo, contain an abundant maternal mRNA that encodes a protein very similar to LBP/p40, originally identified as a non-integrin 67 kDa laminin binding protein. We have sequenced the Urechis caupo mRNA for LBP/p40, and a similar mRNA from the Hawaiian sea urchin, Tripneustes gratilla. Both of the encoded proteins, as well as LBP/p40 proteins from other sources, share significant homology in the amino 2/3 of the proteins, but diverge extensively at the carboxyl ends. LBP/p40 protein is present in growing and in full-grown U. caupo oocytes. The protein concentration remains constant for the first 48 hours of embryogenesis and then begins to decline. In sucrose gradients run with homogenates from coelomocytes, oocytes, and early embryos, all of the LBP/p40 protein appears to be associated with either polysomes or free 40 S ribosomal subunits. In later embryos, an increasing proportion of the protein is found in the soluble fraction. Immunohistochemistry indicates that LBP/p40 is uniformly distributed in early U. caupo embryos, with no localization at the cell surface. In later embryos LBP/p40 is localized in specific parts of the embryo which may correspond to neural tissue.

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