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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Feb 15;102(7):2620-5. Epub 2005 Feb 8.

A soluble mouse brain splice variant of type 2alpha corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) receptor binds ligands and modulates their activity.

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Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology and Laboratory of Neuronal Structure and Function, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Peptides of the corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) family signal through the activation of two receptors, CRF receptor type 1 (CRFR1) and type 2 (CRFR2), both of which exist as multiple splice variants. We have identified a cDNA from mouse brain encoding a splice variant, soluble CRFR2alpha (sCRFR2alpha), in which exon 6 is deleted from the gene encoding CRFR2alpha. Translation of this isoform produces a predicted 143-aa soluble protein. The translated protein includes a majority of the first extracellular domain of the CRFR2alpha followed by a unique 38-aa hydrophilic C terminus resulting from a frame shift produced by deletion of exon 6. By using RT-PCR and Southern hybridization, the relative mRNA expression levels of full-length (seven transmembrane domains) CRFR2alpha and the soluble form (sCRFR2alpha) in the mouse brain were measured with a single reaction. The results demonstrate high levels of expression of sCRFR2alpha in the olfactory bulb, cortex, and midbrain regions. A rabbit antiserum raised against a synthetic peptide fragment encoding the unique C terminus revealed specific sCRFR2alpha immunoreactivity in mouse brain slices by immunohistochemistry and in extracts of brain regions by RIA. Interestingly, the sCRFR2alpha immunoreactivity distribution closely approximated that of CRFR1 expression in rodent brain. A protein corresponding to sCRFR2alpha, expressed and purified from either mammalian or bacterial cell systems, binds several CRF family ligands with low nanomolar affinities. Furthermore, the purified sCRFR2alpha protein inhibits cellular responses to CRF and urocortin 1. These data support a potential role of the sCRFR2alpha protein as a possible biological modulator of CRF family ligands.

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