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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1999 Jan 27;254(3):522-8.

Lactation-dependent expression of an mRNA splice variant with an exon for a multiply O-glycosylated domain of mouse milk fat globule glycoprotein MFG-E8.

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Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, 464-8601, Japan.


Expression of mRNA encoding MFG-E8, a milk fat-associated glycoprotein was investigated in mouse mammary gland. Two forms of mRNA, long and short variants, were shown to be expressed in the mammary tissue by RT-PCR analysis. Sequence analyses of these two variants and an isolated MFG-E8 gene segment indicated that the long and short mRNA variants resulted from an alternative splicing of a single pre-mRNA through in-flame inclusion and skipping of one exon, which encodes a proline/threonine (Pro/Thr)-rich domain. The long variant was expressed predominantly in mammary gland and the expression level was remarkably increased at late gestation and kept high during lactation. On the contrary, the short variant was detected ubiquitously in various tissues and its expression in the mammary gland was rather decreased in a lactation dependent manner. Expression of the long variant was also detected in a mouse mammary epithelial cell line, COMMA-1D, and enhanced by incubation with lactogenic hormones. Glycosylation inhibition analyses using tunicamycin and alpha-benzyl-GalNAc were conducted with COS7 cells transfected with plasmids expressing each mRNA variant, demonstrating that a fully glycosylated product of the long mRNA variant was not only N-glycosylated but also multiply O-glycosylated, whereas a product of the short one had only N-glycan(s). These results suggest that the alternative splicing plays a critical role for the mammary-specific and lactation-dependent expression of the MFG-E8 isoform and that the multiply O-glycosylated Pro/Thr-rich domain of this isoform is functionally important for formation of milk fat globules in mammary epithelial cells.

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