Human acid sphingomyelinase: Isolation, nucleotide sequence, and expression of the full-length and alternatively spliced cDNAs

Edward H. Schuchman, Mariko Suchi, Tsutomu Takahashi, Konrad Sandhoff, Robert J. Desnick

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Two types of partial cDNAs encoding human acid sphingomyelinase (EC; ASM) were recently isolated from fibroblast and placental cDNA libraries (Quintern, L. E., Schuchman, E. H., Levran, O., Suchi, M., Ferlinz, K., Reinke, H., Sandhoff, K., and Desnick, R. J. (1989) EMBO J. 8, 2469-2473). The cDNA inserts had identical sequences with the exception of an internal region; type 1 cDNAs (representing ∼90% of the ASM cDNAs isolated) had 172 in-frame base pairs (bp), which were replaced in the type 2 cDNAs by a 40-bp in-frame sequence. Northern hybridization and RNase protection studies indicated that both type 1 and 2 transcripts were ∼2.5 kilobases; therefore, efforts were directed to isolate full-length type 1 and 2 cDNAs by screening human placental, testis, hepatoma, and retinal cDNA libraries. In addition to type 1 and 2 cDNAs, a new type of ASM cDNA (type 3), which did not contain the type 1- or 2-specific regions, was isolated and sequenced. The full-length type 1 and the reconstructed full-length type 2 and 3 cDNAs were transiently expressed in COS-1 cells. Only the full-length type 1 transcript encoded catalytically active human ASM, demonstrating its functional integrity. The 2347-bp full-length type 1 placental cDNA (pASM-1FL) had an 87-bp 5′-untranslated region, an 1890-bp open reading frame encoding 629 amino acids, and a 370-bp 3′-untranslated sequence. The predicted location of the signal peptide cleavage site was after alanine 46. Two base differences were identified in codons 322 and 506 and shown to be polymorphisms with the common alleles having frequencies of 0.6 and 0.7, respectively. To determine the genomic organization of the type 1, 2, and 3 sequences, a 1665-bp genomic region containing both the unique type 1 (172 bp) and type 2 (40 bp) sequences was amplified by the polymerase chain reaction and sequenced. The 172-bp sequence was exonic, flanked by 5′- and 3′-intronic sequences of 1052 and 229 bp, respectively. The 40-bp type 2 sequence was intronic, occurring at the 5′ end of the 1052-bp intron due to the use of a cryptic 5′ donor splice site, which deleted the entire 172-bp exon and both flanking intronic sequences. The type 3 cDNA resulted from an alternative splicing event, which excised the 172-bp exon. These studies demonstrate the occurrence of alternative splicing of the ASM transcript, but the existence of only one functional mRNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8531-8539
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number13
StatePublished - 5 May 1991


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