Human muscle neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM): identification of a muscle-specific sequence in the extracellular domain.
cDNA clones encoding neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) mRNAs of 6.7, 5.2, and 4.3 kb from human skeletal muscle cells were isolated. A 6.7 kb mRNA encodes a transmembrane N-CAM isoform, present predominantly in mononucleate myoblasts, that shows sequence homology with chick brain N-CAM-140 and is down-regulated during myotube formation. In contrast, the 5.2 and 4.3 kb mRNAs encode nontransmembrane N-CAM isoforms that greatly increase during myoblast fusion. Furthermore, a discrete muscle-specific sequence domain (MSD1) was detected in the extracellular coding regions of the 5.2 and 4.3 kb mRNAs. This encodes a unique run of 37 amino acids and is not expressed in 7.2 and 6.7 kb mRNAs from human or chick brain or in the corresponding 6.7 kb muscle transcript. The MSD1 is also absent from chick and mouse brain mRNAs of 4.0 and 2.9 kb. These results show that diversity in N-CAM primary structure can be found in the extracellular domain in a tissue-specific manner.