A novel variant of 11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase 1 (11 beta-HSD1) mRNA was identified from the ovine liver by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT/PCR), and was named 11 beta-HSD1C mRNA. Sequence analysis of the RT-PCR product revealed that 11 beta-HSD1C mRNA was the product of an alternative exon-splicing within the 11 beta-HSD1 gene in which exon 5 was spliced out. Although it caused a deletion of 48 amino acids in the deduced 11 beta-HSD1 protein, this alternative splicing did not result in a shift within the predicted open reading frame of 11 beta-HSD1 cDNA. Thus, 11 beta-HSD1C mRNA was predicted to code for a protein of 244 amino acids. Using RT-PCR, we also examined the expression of 11 beta-HSD1C mRNA in ovine fetal organs and in maternal myometrium, endometrium, chorion, amnion and placenta. The 11 beta-HSD1C mRNA was expressed ubiquitously, similar to 11 beta-HSD1A mRNA, but at a lower abundance. Furthermore, since levels of 11 beta-HSD1C mRNA were directly related to those of 11 beta-HSD1A mRNA, there is no tissue-specificity for this shorter transcript and the only factor regulating its production appears to be 11 beta-HSD1A mRNA itself. To determine whether 11 beta-HSD1C mRNA encoded a functional enzyme, we inserted the cDNA into the expression vector pRc/CMV, and transfected the construct into Chinese hamster ovary cells. The transfected cells expressed a mRNA of expected size but contained no detectable 11 beta-HSD activity. When combined with cellular extracts of 11 beta-HSD1A cDNA transfected cells, they also did not alter either the dehydrogenase or reductase activity. The functional significance of the 11 beta-HSD1 transcript lacking exon 5 (11 beta-HSD1C mRNA) remains to be determined.
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