A 1.2-kilobase (kb) cDNA clone (NF68) encoding the mouse 68,000-mol-wt neurofilament protein is described. The clone was isolated from a mouse brain cDNA library by low-stringency cross-hybridization with a cDNA probe encoding mouse glial fibrillary acidic protein (Lewis et al., 1984, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 81:2743-2746). The identity of NF68 was established by hybrid selection using mouse brain polyA+ mRNA, and cell-free translation of the selected mRNA species. The cell-free translation product co-migrated with authentic 68,000-mol-wt neurofilament protein on an SDS/polyacrylamide gel, and was immunoprecipitable with a monospecific rabbit anti-bovine neurofilament antiserum. In addition, DNA sequence analysis of NF68 showed 90% homology at the amino acid level compared with the sequence of the porcine 68,000-mol-wt neurofilament protein. At high stringency, NF68 detects a single genomic sequence encoding the mouse 68,000-mol-wt neurofilament protein. Two mRNA species of 2.5 kb and 4.0 kb are transcribed from the single gene in mouse brain. The level of expression of these mRNAs remains almost constant in postnatal mouse brains of all ages and, indeed, in the adult. At reduced stringency, NF68 detects a number of mRNAs that are expressed in mouse brain, one of which encodes the 150,000-mol-wt neurofilament protein. The NF68 probe cross-hybridizes at high stringency with genomic sequences in species as diverse as human, chicken, and (weakly) frog, but not with DNA from Drosophila or sea urchin.

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