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Rebstock, Sabine; Lucas, Kurt; Thompson, John A.; Zimmermann, Wolfgang (1990): cDNA and Gene Analyses Imply a Novel Structure for a Rat Carcinoembryonic Antigen-related Protein. In: The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol. 265, No. 14: pp. 7872-7879


The gene encoding the human tumor marker carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) belongs to a gene family which can be subdivided into the CEA and the pregnancy-specific glycoprotein subgroups. The corresponding proteins are members of the immunoglobulin superfamily, characterized through the presence of one IgV-like domain and a varying number of IgC-like domains. Since the function of the CEA family is not well understood, we decided to establish an animal model in the rat to study its tissue- specific and developmental stage-dependent expression. To this end, we have screened an 18-day rat placenta cDNA library with a recently isolated fragment of a rat CEA-related gene. Two overlapping clones containing the complete coding region for a putative 709 amino acid protein (rnCGM1; Mr = 78,310) have been characterized. In contrast to all members of the human CEA family, this rat CEA-related protein consists of five IgV-like domains and only one IgC-like domain. This novel structure, which has been confirmed at the genomic level might have important functional implications. Due to the rapid evolutionary divergence of the rat and human CEA gene families it is not possible to assign rnCGM1 to its human counterpart. However, the predominant expression of the rnCGM1 gene in the placenta suggests that it could be analogous to one of the human pregnancy-specific glycoprotein genes.