To study the diversity of the protocadherin family, the cDNA clones for a novel protocadherin were isolated by screening rat brain cDNA libraries with a cDNA fragment obtained by PCR, and some of the properties were then characterized. The overall structure of the protein defined by the clone is similar to that of previously identified protocadherins; however, the cytoplasmic domain is distinct from those of previously cloned protocadherins or any other protein sequences in the data bank. We named this protocad herin-3 (Pcdh3) since this is the third protocadherin of which the entire coding sequence has been determined. Most of the deduced amino acid sequences of other cDNA clones obtained by the screening show high homology with but are distinct from that of Pcdh3, indicating that most of these sequences correspond to homologous but different protocadherins. These results demonstrate that Pcdh3 and the protocadherins defined by these clones constitute a protocadherin subfamily. Chromosome mapping indicates that mousePcdh3is located in a specific region of mouse chromosome 18, close to the location of previously cloned protocadherins, suggesting that various protocadherins form a cluster in this region.In situhybridization results showed that Pcdh3 and its related proteins were expressed at various areas in brain. The expressed Pcdh3 protein from the cDNA in mouse L cells was about 100 kDa in molecular weight and was localized at cell-cell contact sites. In contrast to the classical cadherins, however, the expressed Pcdh3 was sensitive to trypsin even in the presence of Ca2+, and the transfectants did not show strong Ca2+-dependent cell aggregation activity. These results indicate the structural and possibly functional diversity of the protocadherin family and suggest a distinctive biological role for Pcdh3.
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