The mouse Vcs2 gene is a composite structure which evolved by gene fusion and encodes five distinct salivary mRNA species

Gene. 1997 Nov 12;201(1-2):75-85. doi: 10.1016/s0378-1119(97)00430-7.


Genes of the VCS (variable coding sequence) family are characterized by an extensive evolutionary divergence in the protein-coding sequence. The VCS family has been characterized by cDNA cloning from submandibular glands in the rat, mouse and humans. At the genomic level, the sequences of two members of this family are known in the rat Rattus norvegicus: the VCSA1 gene, encoding the prohormone-like polypeptide SMR1, and the VCSB1 gene, encoding a salivary Pro-rich polypeptide. No genomic data were available for the VCS genes of other species. To understand the evolution of the VCS gene family better, we have now sequenced 23 kilobases (kb) of the mouse Vcs2 gene. The Vcs2 sequence reveals numerous genomic reorganizations such as an inversion, insertions of short elements and an unusually high number of long interspersed repeated elements (LINEs), which make up 42% of this region. Interestingly, Vcs2 is composed of three different VCS-like regions. The first of these regions contains all the exons necessary to encode the previously described mouse submandibular gland polypeptide MSG2alpha. This region aligns with the entire genomic sequences of rat VCSA1 and VCSB1 genes. The two other regions align with fragments of these rat sequences. The three regions are arrayed in tandem and flanked by LINEs. In particular, the third region also contains exons that were found in mRNA species from the submandibular gland. In total, we have characterized five mRNAs from mouse submandibular glands which have in common their first exon, and are produced by alternative splicing. Vcs2 is thus a single gene that arose by the fusion of three genes (or pseudogenes) of the VCS multigene family.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing
  • Animals
  • Artificial Gene Fusion*
  • Base Sequence
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Exons
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family*
  • Protein Precursors / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger*
  • Rats
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Protein Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides
  • Smr3b protein, rat

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U82375
  • GENBANK/U82376
  • GENBANK/U82377
  • GENBANK/U82378
  • GENBANK/U82379
  • GENBANK/U82380