Structure and expression pattern of human ALR, a novel gene with strong homology to ALL-1 involved in acute leukemia and to Drosophila trithorax.
The ALL-1 gene is involved in human acute leukemia through chromosome translocations or internal rearrangements. ALL-1 is the human homologue of Drosophila trithorax. The latter is a member of the trithorax group (trx-G) genes which together with the Polycomb group (Pc-G) genes act as positive and negative regulators, respectively, to determine the body structure of Drosophila. We have cloned a novel human gene, ALR, which encodes a gigantic 5262 amino acid long protein containing a SET domain, five PHD fingers, potential zinc fingers, and a very long run of glutamines interrupted by hydrophobic residues, mostly leucine. The SET motif, PDH fingers, zinc fingers and two other regions are most similar to domains of ALL-1 and TRX. The first two motifs are also found in other trx-G and Pc-G proteins. The ALR gene was mapped to chromosome band 12q12-13, adjacent to the VDR gene. This region is involved in duplications and translocations associated with cancer. The analysis of ALR expression showed that its approximately 18 kb long mRNA is expressed, like ALL-1, in most adult tissues, including a variety of hematopoietic cells, with the exception of the liver. Whole mount in situ hybridization to early mouse embryos indicates expression in multiple tissues. Based on similarities in structure and expression pattern, ALR is likely to play a similar role to ALL-1 and trx, although its target genes have yet to be identified.