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Mol Cell Biol. 1991 Aug;11(8):4165-76.

Analysis of cDNAs of the proto-oncogene c-src: heterogeneity in 5' exons and possible mechanism for the genesis of the 3' end of v-src.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029-6574.


To further characterize the gene structure of the proto-oncogene c-src and the mechanism for the genesis of the v-src sequence in Rous sarcoma virus, we have analyzed genomic and cDNA copies of the chicken c-src gene. From a cDNA library of chicken embryo fibroblasts, we isolated and sequenced several overlapping cDNA clones covering the full length of the 4-kb c-src mRNA. The cDNA sequence contains a 1.84-kb sequence downstream from the 1.6-kb pp60c-src coding region. An open reading frame of 217 amino acids, called sdr (src downstream region), was found 105 nucleotides from the termination codon for pp60c-src. Within the 3' noncoding region, a 39-bp sequence corresponding to the 3' end of the RSV v-src was detected 660 bases downstream of the pp60c-src termination codon. The presence of this sequence in the c-src mRNA exon supports a model involving an RNA intermediate during transduction of the c-src sequence. The 5' region of the c-src cDNA was determined by analyzing several cDNA clones generated by conventional cloning methods and by polymerase chain reaction. Sequences of these chicken embryo fibroblast clones plus two c-src cDNA clones isolated from a brain cDNA library show that there is considerable heterogeneity in sequences upstream from the c-src coding sequence. Within this region, which contains at least 300 nucleotides upstream of the translational initiation site in exon 2, there exist at least two exons in each cDNA which fall into five cDNA classes. Four unique 5' exon sequences, designated exons UE1, UE2, UEX, and UEY, were observed. All of them are spliced to the previously characterized c-src exons 1 and 2 with the exception of type 2 cDNA. In type 2, the exon 1 is spliced to a novel downstream exon, designated exon 1a, which maps in the region of the c-src DNA defined previously as intron 1. Exon UE1 is rich in G+C content and is mapped at 7.8 kb upstream from exon 1. This exon is also present in the two cDNA clones from the brain cDNA library. Exon UE2 is located at 8.5 kb upstream from exon 1. The precise locations of exons UEX and UEY have not been determined, but both are more than 12 kb upstream from exon 1. The existence and exon arrangements of these 5' cDNAs were further confirmed by RNase protection assays and polymerase chain reactions using specific primers. Our findings indicate that the heterogeneity in the 5' sequences of the c-src mRNAs results from differential splicing and perhaps use of distinct initiation sites. All of these RNAs have the potential of coding for pp60c-src, since their 5' exons are all eventually joined to exon 2.

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