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J Biol Chem. 1990 Jul 5;265(19):11312-9.

Cloning and characterization of molecular isoforms of the catalytic subunit of calcineurin using nonisotopic methods.

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  • 1Section on Immunology, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Rockville, Maryland 20852.


The cloning and characterization of cDNAs for the catalytic subunit of calcineurin (CN) from murine and human brain libraries were carried out using nonisotopic methods. A murine cDNA clone encoding a protein of 521 amino acids (Mr approximately 58,650) was isolated; overlapping clones established a 3'-untranslated region of 554 base pairs preceding the poly(A) tail. Homologous cDNAs from human brain showed greater than 92% nucleotide sequence identity in both coding and non-coding regions with greater than 99% conservation of amino acid sequence. A second class of cDNAs lacking a specific 30-base pair region following the calmodulin-binding domain was found in four murine and human libraries. Oligonucleotide probes for both cDNA isoforms hybridized to mRNA from several brain regions indicating the existence of transcripts in vivo. The nucleotide sequences of the two forms were identical except for the inserted sequence, and Southern blot analysis of mouse and rat DNA was consistent with their having originated from the same gene; these data suggest that alternative splicing may give rise to molecular isoforms of the catalytic subunit in brain. Northern blots showed a predominant mRNA for CN in most tissues of approximately 4.0 kilobases (kb) with lower amounts of a 3.6-kb species. Brain showed 10 times more of these mRNAs than skeletal muscle while other tissues had less than or equal to 5% that in brain. In testis, multiple mRNAs were observed, with the major forms being approximately 2.8 and 1.6 kb; the total amount of CN message was about 15% that in brain. The presence of mRNA isoforms of the catalytic subunit may provide for isoenzymes of this phosphatase having distinct phosphoprotein substrate specificities or regulatory properties. The structural relatedness of CN to other mammalian serine/threonine protein phosphatases was highest over a region of approximately 240 amino acids near the amino terminus of this subunit, with greater similarity to protein phosphatase 2A than protein phosphatase 1. The conservation of many regions found in lambda phage phosphatase (Cohen, P.T.W., and Cohen, P. (1989) Biochem. J. 260, 931-934) indicates a common origin for the catalytic domain of this enzyme.

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