cDNA clones encoding the alpha chain of the murine lymphocyte-Peyer's patch adhesion molecule (LPAM), which is associated with lymphocyte homing, have been isolated by screening with the human VLA-4 (alpha 4h) probe. Several alpha 4 antigenic determinants were identified on COS-7 cells after transfection. From overlapping clones, approximately 5 kb of contiguous nucleotide sequence have been determined, encoding a protein sequence of 1039 amino acids for the LPAM alpha chain (alpha 4m). LPAM is a member of the integrin family of cell-surface heterodimers, and alpha 4m is the murine homologue of the human alpha 4 h chain. The two proteins have a total sequence similarity of 84%, with an almost perfect conservation (31/32 amino acids) in the cytoplasmic domain. Like alpha 4h, alpha 4m is distinct from other integrin alpha chains because it has neither an I-domain nor a COOH-terminal cleavage site. The positions of the characteristic Cysteine residues are conserved, and a putative protease cleavage site is located near the middle of the protein sequence. The NH2-terminal part of the protein contains seven homologous repeats, and three of them include putative divalent cation-binding sites. These sites are among the most conserved between the alpha 4m sequence and other alpha chains, and may therefore be involved in the binding of integrin alpha and beta chains. An additional cDNA clone was isolated which shares a sequence of perfect homology with the alpha 4m encoding cDNAs, but has a unique 3' poly-A end. This observation correlates with the fact that three discrete murine RNA bands are observed in Northern blot experiments using alpha 4m as a probe, whereas only two human RNA species are described for alpha 4h, indicating a higher complexity for murine than for human sequences.

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