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J Biol Chem. 2001 Aug 31;276(35):33079-85. Epub 2001 Jul 5.

Four subunit a isoforms of Caenorhabditis elegans vacuolar H+-ATPase. Cell-specific expression during development.

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  • 1Division of Biological Sciences, Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research, Osaka University, Japan.


We have identified four genes (vha-5, vha-6, vha-7, and unc-32) coding for vacuolar-type proton-translocating ATPase (V-ATPase) subunit a in Caenorhabditis elegans, the first example of four distinct isoforms in eukaryotes. Their products had nine putative transmembrane regions, exhibited 43-60% identity and 62-84% similarity with the bovine subunit a1 isoform, and retained 11 amino acid residues essential for yeast V-ATPase activity (Leng, X. H., Manolson, M. F., and Forgac, M. (1998) J. Biol. Chem. 273, 6717-6723). The similarities, together with the results of immunoprecipitation, suggest that these isoforms are components of V-ATPase. Transgenic and immunofluorescence analyses revealed that these genes were strongly expressed in distinct cells; vha-5 was strongly expressed in an H-shaped excretory cell, vha-6 was strongly expressed in intestine, vha-7 was strongly expressed in hypodermis, and unc-32 was strongly expressed in nerve cells. Furthermore, the vha-7 and unc-32 genes were also expressed in the uteri of hermaphrodites. RNA interference analysis showed that the double-stranded RNA for unc-32 caused embryonic lethality similar to that seen with other subunit genes (vha-1, vha-4, and vha-11) (Oka, T., and Futai, M. (2000) J. Biol. Chem. 275, 29556-29561). The progenies of worms injected with the vha-5 or vha-6 double-stranded RNA became died at a specific larval stage, whereas the vha-7 double-stranded RNA showed no effect on development. These results suggest that V-ATPases with these isoforms generate acidic compartments essential for worm development in a cell-specific manner.

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