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Comparative Study
. 2002 Oct 11;1578(1-3):29-42.
doi: 10.1016/s0167-4781(02)00478-5.

Genomic Organization of an Intron-Containing Sperm Protein 17 Gene (Sp17-1) and an Intronless Pseudogene (Sp17-2) in Humans: A New Model

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Comparative Study

Genomic Organization of an Intron-Containing Sperm Protein 17 Gene (Sp17-1) and an Intronless Pseudogene (Sp17-2) in Humans: A New Model

Rico Buchli et al. Biochim Biophys Acta. .

Abstract

Sp17 was initially thought to be a sperm specific protein involved in the interaction of the spermatozoon with the oocyte's surrounding extracellular glycoprotein matrix. Recent reports, however, indicate that Sp17 expression is neither testis-specific nor is it exclusively used for binding to the zona pellucida of the oocyte. In this study, we provide comprehensive characterization of the genomic structure of Sp17. We identified an intron-containing gene (Sp17-1) containing five exonic and four intronic sequences. Analysis of Sp17 transcripts using rapid amplification of DNA complementary to RNA (cDNA) ends (RACE) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques showed the presence of alternative polyadenylation resulting in the production of varying lengths of mRNAs as well as the usage of different transcriptional start sites. Moreover, an earlier description of the human Sp17 mRNA describing a splice variant could not be confirmed. Comparison to mouse Sp17 gene organization demonstrated a high degree of conservation, suggesting selective evolutionary pressure for this protein to retain a conserved gene architecture. Additionally, we identified a second gene (Sp17-2), whose most striking characteristic was the complete absence of introns. This Sp17-2 gene has likely arisen by reverse transcription (RT) of a spliced Sp17-1 mRNA with subsequent integration into the human genome. Its open reading frame (ORF) is interrupted by stop codons, giving rise to a pseudogene. Furthermore, Southern blot analysis of human genomic DNA indicated the possibility of additional Sp17 species within the human genome.

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