Screening of a bacteriophage lambda gt11 cDNA expression library with a polyclonal anti-microtubule associated protein (MAP) antiserum resulted in the isolation of two non-cross-hybridizing sets of cDNA clones. One set was shown to encode MAP2 (Lewis, S. A., A. Villasante, P. Sherline, and N. J. Cowan, 1986, J. Cell Biol., 102:2098-2105). To determine the specificity of the second set, three non-overlapping fragments cloned from the same mRNA molecule via a series of "walking" experiments were separately subcloned into inducible plasmid expression vectors in the appropriate orientation and reading frame. Upon induction and analysis by immunoblotting, two of the fusion proteins synthesized were shown to be immunoreactive with an anti-MAP1-specific antibody, but not with an anti-MAP2-specific antibody. Since these MAP1-specific epitopes are encoded in non-overlapping cDNAs cloned from a single contiguous mRNA, these clones cannot encode polypeptides that contain adventitiously cross-reactive epitopes. Furthermore, these cDNA clones detected an abundant mRNA species of greater than 10 kb in mouse brain, consistent with the coding requirement of a 350,000-D polypeptide and the known abundance of MAP1 in that tissue. The MAP1-specific cDNA probes were used in blot transfer experiments with RNA prepared from brain, liver, kidney, stomach, spleen, and thymus. While detectable quantities of MAP1-specific mRNA were observed in these tissues, the level of MAP1 expression was approximately 500-fold lower than in brain. The levels of both MAP1-specific and MAP2-specific mRNAs decline in the postnatal developing brain; the level of MAP1-specific mRNA also increases slightly in rat PC12 cells upon exposure to nerve growth factor. These surprising results contrast sharply with reported dramatic developmental increases in the amount of MAP1 in brain and in nerve growth factor-induced PC12 cells. The cDNA clones encoding MAP1 detect a single copy sequence in mouse DNA, even under conditions of low stringency that would allow the detection of related but mismatched sequences. The cDNAs cross-hybridize with genomic sequences in rat, human, and chicken DNA, but not with DNA from frog, Drosophila, or sea urchin. These data are discussed in terms of the evolution and possible biological role of MAP1.

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