Using mRNA from cultured human mesothelial cells, we constructed bacterial plasmids and lambda phage vectors that contained cDNA sequences specific for the keratins expressed in these cells. A cloned cDNA encoding keratin K7 (55 kD) was identified by positive hybrid selection. Southern Blot analysis indicated that this sequence is represented only once in the human genome, and Northern Blot analysis demonstrated that the gene encoding K7 is expressed in abundance in cultured bronchial and mesothelial cells, but only weakly in cultured epidermal cells and not at all in liver, colon, or exocervical tissue. The predicted amino acid sequence of this keratin has revealed a striking difference between this keratin and the type II keratins expressed in epidermal cells: whereas all of the epidermal type II keratins thus far sequenced have long nonhelical termini rich in glycine and serine, this mesothelial type II keratin has amino and carboxy terminal regions that are unusually short and lack the inexact repeats of glycine and serine residues.

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