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DNA Cell Biol. 1996 Aug;15(8):643-51.

Alternative splicing gives rise to two isoforms of Zfhep, a zinc finger/homeodomain protein that binds T3-response elements.

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Department of Biological and Biophysical Sciences, University of Louisville Dental School, KY 40202, USA.


We have previously isolated a cDNA for a transcription factor referred to as Zfhep (zinc finger homeodomain enhancer-binding protein) containing two separate zinc finger domains, ZD1 and ZD2, each of which binds DNA, and a homeodomain. The rat Zfhep cDNA lacks a 5'-methionine codon, present in some homologs from other species. Hence, the aim of this work was to isolate the 5'-end of the rat Zfhep cDNA. Zfhep-2 cDNA was isolated, having a total length of 2.5 kbp, including more than 1.1 kbp of novel sequence followed by 1.4 kbp identical to the Zfhep-1 clone. The 1.1 kbp of novel sequence contains multiple stop codons in all reading frames, suggesting that it represents the 5'-untranslated (5'-UT) region of the rat Zfhep-2 mRNA. However, the Zfhep-2 clone does not contain the extreme 5'-exon(s) of the Zfhep-1 coding sequence, possibly due to alternative splicing of Zfhep RNA. To distinguish between a splice junction versus an intron-exon junction, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with rat genomic DNA and junction-flanking primers from the Zfhep-2 sequence was conducted. No bands were amplified from the genomic DNA by two different pairs of primers, indicating that the Zfhep-2-specific sequence is not intronic. Ribonuclease protection assays were performed to investigate the expression of multiple Zfhep mRNAs. Two protected bands were detected, and both were identified in total RNA or mRNA of rat ovary, hindbrain, forebrain, heart, kidney, small intestine, and GH4C1 cells. Zfhep-2 represents about 20% of the Zfhep RNA in each tissue. Hence, two mRNAs are expressed in these tissues, confirming the alternative splicing. To confirm independently the presence of both Zfhep-2 and Zfhep-1 mRNAs, reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR was done using primers that span the Zfhep splice site. Specific bands representing both RNAs were obtained. The Zfhep-2 PCR product was subcloned and DNA sequence analysis confirmed the absence of ATG codons near the 5'-end of the open reading frame. The theoretical translation of the Zfhep-2 clone predicts a smaller protein than Zfhep-1. In vitro translation in reticulocyte lysates showed that Zfhep-2 is about 40 kD smaller than Zfhep-1. Hence, Zfhep-2 apparently lacks most of the first zinc finger domain (ZD1) of Zfhep-1. Because the two zinc finger domains bind different DNA sequences, Zfhep-2 is predicted to bind to only a subset of genes recognized by Zfhep-1.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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