We describe the isolation of a set of overlapping cDNAs encoding mouse microtubule associated protein 2 (MAP2), using an anti-MAP antiserum to screen a mouse brain cDNA expression library cloned in bacteriophage lambda gt11. The authenticity of these clones was established by the following criteria: (a) three non-identical clones each expressing a MAP2 immunoreactive fusion protein were independently isolated from the expression library; each of these clones cross-hybridized at the nucleic acid level; (b) anti-MAP antiserum was affinity purified using nitrocellulose-bound fusion protein; these antibodies detected only MAP2 in an immunoblot experiment of whole brain microtubule protein; (c) a series of cDNA "walking" experiments was done so as to obtain a non-overlapping cloned fragment corresponding to a different part of the same mRNA molecule. Upon subcloning this non-overlapping fragment into plasmid expression vectors, a fusion protein was synthesized that was immunoreactive with an anti-MAP2 specific antiserum. Thus, a single contiguous cloned mRNA molecule encodes at least two MAP2-specific epitopes; (d) the cloned cDNA probes detect an mRNA species in mouse brain that is of a size (approximately 9 kb) consistent with the coding capacity required by a 250,000-D protein. The MAP2-specific cloned cDNA probes were used in RNA blot transfer experiments to assay for the presence of MAP2 mRNA in a variety of mouse tissues. Though brain contained abundant quantities of MAP2 mRNA, no corresponding sequences were detectable in RNA prepared from liver, kidney, spleen, stomach, or thymus. We conclude that the expression of MAP2 is brain-specific. Use of the MAP2 specific cDNA probes in genomic Southern blot transfer experiments showed the presence of a single gene encoding MAP2 in mouse. The microheterogeneity of MAP2 is therefore ascribable either to alternative splicing within a single gene, or to posttranslational modification(s), or both. Under conditions of low stringency, the mouse MAP2 cDNA probe cross-hybridizes with genomic sequences from rat, human, and (weakly) chicken, but not with sequences in frog, Drosophila, or sea urchin DNA. Thus, there is significant interspecies divergence of MAP2 sequences. The implications of the above observations are discussed in relationship to the potential biological function of MAP2.

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