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Tsim, Karl W. K. and Ruegg, Markus A. and Escher, Gérard and Kröger, Stephan and McMahan, U. J. (1992): cDNA that encodes active agrin. In: Neuron, Vol. 8: pp. 677-689




Agrin is thought to mediate the motor neuron-induced aggregation of AChRs and AChE on the surface of muscle fibers at neuromuscular junctions. We have isolated a cDNA from a chick brain library that, based on sequence homology and expression experiments, codes for active agrin. Examination of the sequence reveals considerable similarity to homologous cDNAs previously isolated from ray and rat libraries. A conspicuous difference is an insertion of 33 by in chick agrin cDNA, which endows the encoded protein with AChR/AChE aggregating activity. Homologous transcripts having the 33 by insertion were detected in the ray CNS, which indicates that an insertion of similar size is conserved in agrin in many, if not all, vertebrate species. Results of in situ hybridization studies and PCR experiments on mRNA isolated from motor neuron-enriched fractions of the spinal cord indicate that, consistent with the agrin hypothesis, motor neurons contain transcripts that code for active agrin.