Organization of the gene encoding common acute lymphoblastic leukemia antigen (neutral endopeptidase 24.11): multiple miniexons and separate 5' untranslated regions.
The common acute lymphoblastic leukemia antigen (CALLA) is a 749-amino acid type II integral membrane protein that has been identified recently as the neutral endopeptidase 24.11 [NEP (EC 18.104.22.168)]. Herein, we characterize the organization of the human CALLA/NEP gene and show that it spans more than 80 kilobases (kb) and is composed of 24 exons. Exons 1 and 2 encode 5' untranslated sequences; exon 3 [170 base pairs (bp)] encodes the initiation codon and transmembrane and cytoplasmic domain; 20 short exons (exons 4-23), ranging in size from 36 to 162 bp, encode most of the extracellular portion of the enzyme; and exon 24 (approximately 3400 bp) encodes the COOH-terminal 32 amino acids of the protein and contains the entire 3' untranslated region (UTR). Of note, the pentapeptide sequence (His-Glu-Ile-Thr-His) associated with metalloprotease zinc binding and substrate catalysis is encoded within a single exon (exon 19). Three types of CALLA/NEP cDNAs have been identified: these clones contain 5' UTR sequences differing from one another upstream of exon 3. These human 5' sequences are homologous to those found in rat brain and rabbit kidney NEP cDNAs. The three human CALLA cDNA types result from alternative splicing of exons 1, 2a, or 2b to the common exon 3. Moreover, exons 2a and 2b share the same 5' sequence but differ from each other by the use of two distinct donor splice sites 171 bp apart in the gene. The substantial conservation of 5' untranslated sequences among species and the existence of 5' alternative splicing suggest that CALLA gene expression may be differentially controlled in a tissue-specific and/or developmentally regulated fashion.