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Genomics. 1997 Oct 15;45(2):355-61.

Multiple functional copies of the RBM gene family, a spermatogenesis candidate on the human Y chromosome.

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Division of Medical Genetics, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, California 90502, USA.


The RBM (RNA-binding motif) gene family on the human Y chromosome encodes proteins with an RNA-binding domain. Its exclusive expression in germ cells and its partial deletion in some azoospermic or severely oligospermic males provide evidence of a role for RBM genes in spermatogenesis. There are approximately 30 RBM genes, found on both arms of the Y chromosome. Two RBM cDNA clones with slightly different sequences have been reported. To investigate the number of functional genes, we studied RBM expression by use of RT-PCR of RBM transcripts and by characterizing numerous RBM cDNA clones. A total of 27 RT-PCR and 19 cDNA clones were sequenced. Whereas the RT-PCR clones pointed to the existence of at least six RBM subfamilies (RBMI to RBMVI), the cDNA clones indicated that only RBMI is actively transcribed and encodes functional proteins. A total of six RBMI genes were identified, which produce four polypeptides due to some silent base substitutions. The transcripts of each gene are alternatively spliced to generate protein isoforms with three or four SRGY boxes, thus greatly increasing the complexity of the products of the RBM gene family. We also provide evidence suggesting that a 5-bp deletion in a previously reported RBM cDNA clone represents a processing irregularity.

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