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Eur J Biochem. 1999 Mar;260(3):627-34.

A novel form of human neuropsin, a brain-related serine protease, is generated by alternative splicing and is expressed preferentially in human adult brain.

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Department of Cell Biology, Institute for Neurological Diseases and Geriatrics, Kawaramachi Hirokaji, Japan.


We have cloned cDNAs encoding two isoforms of a human novel serine protease. They encoded sequences of 260 and 305 amino acids, and both showed significant homology to mouse neuropsin. Mouse neuropsin has been reported to be involved in hippocampal plasticity, therefore we designated the proteins as type 1 and type 2 neuropsin, respectively. The amino acid sequences of the two types of human neuropsin were identical, except that type 2 carried an insert of 45 amino acids at the C-terminus of the leader sequence. The essential three amino acids in the active site triad, His, Asp, and Ser, and the single putative N-glycosylation site were conserved in human and mouse neuropsin. Sequence analysis of the 946 bp genomic DNA spanning the region encoding the insertion sequence revealed that two isoforms were generated in human brain by alternative splicing. However, the mouse genomic sequence did not conserve the 3' acceptor consensus sequence at the corresponding position, suggesting that type 2 neuropsin was a species-specific splice variant. When the open reading frames of human neuropsin were expressed in insect cells, both types of neuropsin were detected in the conditioned media by western blot analysis using anti-human neuropsin serum. Northern blot hybridization and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction showed predominant expression of type 1 neuropsin in pancreas. Type 2 neuropsin was preferentially expressed in human adult brain and hippocampus, although both types were expressed in fetal brain and placenta in comparable amounts. Dot blot hybridization showed that neuropsin was expressed in various regions of adult brain, including the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, and also in various fetal tissues. These results suggest that human type 2 neuropsin may be important to the adult brain plasticity, although both types may be necessary for the development of the nervous system.

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