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Gene. 2003 Jul 17;312:125-34.

Characterization of mouse Eppin and a gene cluster of similar protease inhibitors on mouse chromosome 2.

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  • 1Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, 206 Taylor Hall, CB# 7090, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7090, USA.


We have recently described a novel gene on human chromosome 20q 12-13.2 called Eppin (Epididymal protease inhibitor) that expresses three mRNAs encoding two isoforms of a cysteine-rich protein containing both Kunitz-type and WAP-type (four disulfide core) consensus sequences (Richardson et al., 2001). To further our studies on Eppin, we have cloned, sequenced and characterized mouse Eppin and report that it lies within a 200 Kb cluster of putative Eppin-like genes on mouse chromosome 2. Analysis of the homologies between the genes in the human and mouse Eppin clusters indicates that the first part of the cluster immediately surrounding Eppin represents a conserved linkage because the order of homologous genes is conserved. Sequencing of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) products confirmed the expression of five of these novel Eppin-like genes in the mouse, which include the mouse homologue of HE-4. These genes are characterized by having either one or both of the Kunitz-type and WAP-type consensus sequences. Additional RT-PCR experiments revealed that expression of some of the Eppin-like genes is restricted to epididymis and testis while others are expressed in several somatic tissues. Northern blot analysis of 22 different mouse tissues identified Eppin transcripts only in the epididymis and testis. Immunostaining of Eppin with anti-recombinant mouse Eppin demonstrated Eppin predominantly on the postacrosomal region of mouse spermatozoa, in Sertoli cells, Leydig cells, and round spermatids in the testis, and in the principal cells of the cauda epididymidis epithelium. Eppin is first expressed by Sertoli cells of 12-day-old mice and subsequently in round spermatids, which is consistent with androgen regulation. Our results demonstrate that mouse chromosome 2 contains a conserved linkage of Eppin-like protease inhibitor genes that are expressed in the epididymis.

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