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Life Sci. 2000;66(7):593-605.

Molecular cloning and expression studies of a prolactin receptor in goldfish (Carassius auratus).

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Department of Zoology, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, China.


A full-length cDNA clone, of a size of 4.6 kb, for the goldfish prolactin receptor has been isolated. This cDNA clone encodes a protein of 600 amino acids homologous to prolactin receptors of other species. A Kyte-Doolittle hydropathy analysis of the receptor indicates that the translated protein consists of a signal peptide of 22 amino acids, an extracellular domain of 228 amino acids, a single transmembrane domain of 24 amino acids, and an intracellular domain of 346 amino acids. Several characteristic landmarks of prolactin receptor could be identified in this clone. These include the four conserved cysteine residues and the WS motif within the extracellular domain, and the box 1 and box 2 regions of the intracellular domain. Among all the prolactin receptor sequences known to date, this clone bears the closest resemblance to the tilapia prolactin receptor, although homology between these two fish prolactin receptors is rather low. There are only 57.4% of nucleotide and 48.3% of amino acid sequence identities between these two fish receptors. This receptor cDNA was transfected into CHO-K1 cells for functional analysis. RT-PCR analysis with a pair of gene specific primers indicate that the receptor was transcribed in the transfected cells. Using a cell proliferation assay based on the reduction of the tetrazolium salt 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide, the receptor transfected CHO-K1 cells can be stimulated to proliferate upon the addition of ovine prolactin in the culture medium. The tissue distribution of the prolactin receptor in goldfish was studied by RT-PCR/Southern analysis and by Northern analysis. The results indicated that the receptor is expressed mostly in the kidney, the gill and the intestine of goldfish, corroborating with the osmoregulatory role of prolactin in fish. In addition, an appreciable level of the receptor is also found in the brain and gonads of goldfish. Northern analysis showed that there are two transcript sizes, a major 4.6 kb and a minor 3.5 kb mRNAs, in the kidney, gill and intestine.

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