Multiple retinoic acid responsive cDNAs were isolated from a high density cDNA microarray membrane, which was developed from a cDNA library of human tracheobronchial epithelial cells. Five selected cDNA clones encoded the sequence of the same novel gene. The predicted open reading frame of the novel gene encoded a protein of 319 amino acids. The deduced amino acid sequence contains four motifs that are conserved in the short-chain alcohol dehydrogenase/reductase (SDR) family of proteins. The novel gene shows the greatest homology to a group of dehydrogenases that can oxidize retinol (retinol dehydrogenases). The mRNA of the novel gene was found in trachea, colon, tongue, and esophagus. In situ hybridization of airway tissue sections demonstrated epithelial cell-specific gene expression, espe. cially in the ciliated cell type. Both all-trans-retinoic acid and 9-cis-retinoic acid were able to elevate the expression of the novel gene in primary human tracheobronchial epithelial cells in vitro. This elevation coincided with an enhanced retinol metabolism in these cultures. COS cells transfected with an expression construct of the novel gene were also elevated in the metabolism of retinol. The results suggested that the novel gene represents a new member of the SDR family that may play a critical role in retinol metabolism in airway epithelia as well as in other epithelia of colon, tongue, and esophagus.
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