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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Expression of multiple alpha1-antitrypsin-like genes in hibernating species of the squirrel family.

In the chipmunk, a mammalian hibernator, a 140 kDa protein complex found in the blood, drastically decreases in concentration during hibernation. This complex contains four species of proteins, HP-20, -25, -27 and -55. In the present study, cDNA clones coding for the chipmunk HP-55 were isolated from a liver cDNA library. Sequence analysis revealed that HP-55 is produced as a precursor protein of 413 amino acids (aa), that it has a signal peptide of 24 aa, and that it contains four potential N-glycosylation sites. The deduced aa sequence shows 63% identity with that of rat alpha1-antitrypsin (alpha1-AT); however, the sequence corresponding to the reactive center P1-P1' residues was found to be Met-Leu, whereas it is Met-Ser in the rat alpha1-AT. During screening of the chipmunk liver cDNA library, four other related classes of cDNA clones were obtained, each also coding for an alpha1-AT-like protein. In spite of more than 86% overall aa sequence identity among the five chipmunk alpha1-AT-like proteins, they are highly divergent in the putative reactive center region; the putative P1-P1' sequences are Met-Leu (HP-55 or CM55-ML), Met-Met (CM55-MM), Met-Ser (CM55-MS), Ser-Ile (CM55-SI) and Ser-Thr (CM55-ST). Each of the alpha1-AT-like protein mRNAs was expressed in chipmunk liver, and the HP-55 mRNA level was greatly reduced during hibernation. Genomic Southern blot analysis and screening of a liver cDNA library from another hibernating squirrel species, the ground squirrel, also revealed expression of multiple members of the alpha1-AT gene family, whereas analysis of a cDNA library from a non-hibernating species, the tree squirrel, found only a single alpha1-AT gene.[1]


  1. Expression of multiple alpha1-antitrypsin-like genes in hibernating species of the squirrel family. Takamatsu, N., Kojima, M., Taniyama, M., Ohba, K., Uematsu, T., Segawa, C., Tsutou, S., Watanabe, M., Kondo, J., Kondo, N., Shiba, T. Gene (1997) [Pubmed]
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