Maelstrom is a germ-plasm component protein, that is shown to be functionally involved in the piRNA pathway. It is conserved throughout Eukaryota, though it appears to have been lost from all examined teleost fish species. The domain architecture shows that it is coupled with several DNA- and RNA- related domains such as HMG box, SR-25-like and HDAC_interact domains. Sequence analysis and fold recognition have found a distant similarity between Maelstrom domain and the DnaQ 3'-5' exonuclease family with the RNase H fold (Exonuc_X-T, PF00929); notably, that the Maelstrom domains from basal eukaryotes contain the conserved 3'-5' exonuclease active site residues (Asp-Glu-Asp-His-Asp, DEDHD). However, the animal and some amoeba maelstrom contain another set of conserved residues (Glu-His-His-Cys-His-Cys, EHHCHC). This evolutionary link together with structural examinations leads to the hypothesis that Maelstrom domains may have a potential nuclease-transposase activity or RNA-binding ability that may be implicated in piRNA biogenesis. A protein function evolution mode, namely \active site switch\
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Zhang D, Xiong H, Shan J, Xia X, Trudeau VL;, Biol Direct. 2008;3:48.: Functional insight into Maelstrom in the germline piRNA pathway: a unique domain homologous to the DnaQ-H 3'-5' exonuclease, its lineage-specific expansion/loss and evolutionarily active site switch. PUBMED:19032786 EPMC:19032786.