Alternative exon usage creates novel transcript variants of tumor suppressor SHREW-1 gene with differential tissue expression profile

Biol Open. 2016 Nov 15;5(11):1607-1619. doi: 10.1242/bio.019463.


Shrew-1, also called AJAP1, is a transmembrane protein associated with E-cadherin-mediated adherence junctions and a putative tumor suppressor. Apart from its interaction with β-catenin and involvement in E-cadherin internalization, little structure or function information exists. Here we explored shrew-1 expression during postnatal differentiation of mammary gland as a model system. Immunohistological analyses with antibodies against either the extracellular or the cytoplasmic domains of shrew-1 consistently revealed the expression of full-length shrew-1 in myoepithelial cells, but only part of it in luminal cells. While shrew-1 localization remained unaltered in myoepithelial cells, nuclear localization occurred in luminal cells during lactation. Based on these observations, we identified two unknown shrew-1 transcript variants encoding N-terminally truncated proteins. The smallest shrew-1 protein lacks the extracellular domain and is most likely the only variant present in luminal cells. RNA analyses of human tissues confirmed that the novel transcript variants of shrew-1 exist in vivo and exhibit a differential tissue expression profile. We conclude that our findings are essential for the understanding and interpretation of future functional and interactome analyses of shrew-1 variants.

Keywords: AJAP1; Adherence junctions; Lactation; Mammary gland; Splice variants; Tumor suppressor protein.