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Genomics. 1993 Jun;16(3):630-7.

Molecular characterization and evolution of the SPRR family of keratinocyte differentiation markers encoding small proline-rich proteins.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Leiden, The Netherlands.


SPRR genes (formerly SPR) encode a novel class of polypeptides (small proline rich proteins) that are strongly induced during differentiation of human epidermal keratinocytes in vitro and in vivo. Recently we found that the N- and C-terminal domains of these proteins show strong sequence homology to loricrin and involucrin, suggesting that SPRR proteins constitute a new class of cornified envelope precursor proteins. Here we show that SPRR proteins are encoded by closely related members of a gene family, consisting of two genes of SPRR1, approximately seven genes for SPRR2, and a single gene for SPRR3. All SPRR genes are closely linked within a 300-kb DNA segment on human chromosome 1 band q21-q22, a region where the related loricrin and involucrin genes have also been mapped. The most characteristic feature of the SPRR gene family resides in the structure of the central segments of the encoded polypeptides that are built up from tandemly repeated units of either eight (SPRR1 and SPRR3) or nine (SPRR2) amino acids with the general consensus *K*PEP**. Sequencing data of the different members, together with their clustered chromosomal organization, strongly suggest that this gene family has evolved from a single progenitor gene by multiple intra- and intergenic duplications. Analysis of the different SPRR subfamilies reveals a gene-specific bias to either intra- or intergenic duplication. We propose that a process of homogenization has acted on the different members of one subfamily, whereas the different subfamilies appear to have diverged from each other, at the levels of both protein structure and gene regulation.

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