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Biol Chem. 2001 Nov;382(11):1583-91.

Splice variants of human cathepsin L mRNA show different expression rates.

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Institut für Biochemie 1, Klinikum der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena, Germany.


Human cathepsin L (hCATL) mRNA occurs in vivo in at least three splice variants. They differ in the length of exon 1, which comprises 278 nucleotides (hCATL-A), 188 nucleotides (hCATL-A2) and 132 nucleotides (hCATL-A3), respectively. We describe here the shortest variant for the first time. This form is predominant in all tissues and cells examined so far, including malignant tumors. We studied the expression rate of the three mRNA variants in order to explain why malignant kidney tumors show low cathepsin L activity despite of high mRNA levels. The variant hCATL-A3 showed the highest expression rate in vitro and in vivo. Based on these results, we suggest a cis-acting element on human cathepsin L mRNA which can be bound by a negative trans-acting regulator, thus leading to reduced expression rates.

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