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Biochemistry. 1999 Nov 9;38(45):14746-51.

The Na,K-ATPase alpha4 gene (Atp1a4) encodes a ouabain-resistant alpha subunit and is tightly linked to the alpha2 gene (Atp1a2) on mouse chromosome 1.

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Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3G 1Y6.


We have isolated and characterized cDNA clones encoding the murine homologue of a putative fourth Na,K-ATPase alpha subunit isoform (alpha4). The predicted polypeptide is 1032 amino acids in length and exhibits 75% amino acid sequence identity to the rat alpha1, alpha2, and alpha3 subunits. Within the first extracellular loop, the alpha4 subunit is highly divergent from other Na,K-ATPase alpha subunits. Because this region of Na,K-ATPase is a major determinant of ouabain sensitivity, we tested the ability of the rodent alpha4 subunit to transfer ouabain resistance in a transfection protocol. We find that a cDNA containing the complete rodent alpha4 ORF is capable of conferring low levels of ouabain resistance upon HEK 293 cells, an indication that the alpha4 subunit can substitute for the endogenous ouabain-sensitive alpha subunit of human cells. Nucleotide sequences specific for the murine alpha4 subunit were used to identify the chromosomal position of the alpha4 subunit gene. By hybridizing an alpha4 probe with a series of BACs, we localized the alpha4 subunit gene (Atp1a4) to the distal portion of mouse chromosome 1, in very close proximity to the murine Na,K-ATPase alpha2 subunit gene. In adult mouse tissues, we detected expression of the alpha4 subunit gene almost exclusively in testis, with low levels of expression in epididymis. The close similarities in the organization and expression pattern of the murine and human alpha4 subunit genes suggest that these two genes are orthologous. Together, our studies indicate that the alpha4 subunit represents a functional Na,K-ATPase alpha subunit isoform.

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