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J Biol Chem. 2003 May 30;278(22):19691-701. Epub 2003 Mar 10.

Complex transcription and splicing of odorant receptor genes.

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  • 1Institut für Immungenetik, Universitätsklinikum Charité, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Spandauer Damm 130, Germany.


Human major histocompatibility (human leucocyte antigen (HLA)) complex-linked odorant receptor (OR) genes are among the best characterized OR genes in the human genome. In addition to their functions as odorant receptors in olfactory epithelium, they have been suggested to play a role in the fertilization process. Here, we report the first in-depth analysis of their expression and regulation within testicular tissue. Sixteen HLA-linked OR and three non-HLA-linked OR were analyzed. One OR gene (hs6M1-16, in positive transcriptional orientation) exhibited six different transcriptional start sites combined with extensive alternative splicing within the 5'-untranslated region, the coding exon, and the 3'-untranslated region. Long distance splicing, exon sharing, and premature polyadenylation were features of another three OR loci (hs6M1-18, -21, and -27, all upstream of hs6M1-16, but in negative transcriptional orientation). Determination of the transcriptional start sites of these OR genes identified a region of 81 bp with potential bi-directional transcriptional activity. The results demonstrate that HLA-linked OR genes are subject to unusually complex transcriptional regulatory mechanisms.

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