Molecular Cloning of a Rat Brain cDNA, with Homology to a Tyrosine Kinase Substrate, that Induces Galactosylceramide Expression in COS-7 Cells

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A rat brain cDNA clone has been isolated, using a eukaryotic cell transient expression system in conjunction with an anti-galactosylceramide (anti-GalCer) monoclonal antibody that induces GalCer expression in COS-7 cells. The protein was designated as GalCer expression factor-1 (GEF-1). A good correlation between GalCer expression and the level of the enzyme activity of UDP-galactose:ceramide galactosyltransferase (CGT) was demonstrated. The cDNA insert encoded a polypeptide of 771 amino acids with a calculated molecular mass of 85,787 Da. The cDNA hybridized to a single mRNA of 3.1 kb in all rat organs examined, including brain, testis, and skeletal muscle. The cDNA product was determined to be a tyrosine-phosphorylated protein with a molecular mass of 110 kDa in transfected COS-7 cells and adult rat brain. COS-7 cells transfected with the cDNA clone showed dramatic morphological changes: The transfected cells appeared to be fibroblast-like cells, whereas the parent COS-7 cells were typical epithelial-like cells. The deduced amino acid sequences revealed a strikingly high homology to a mouse hepatocyte growth factor-regulated tyrosine kinase substrate but no homology to CGT. Taking these results together, it is suggested that GEF-1 may play an important role in regulating GalCer expression in the brain.

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