Ly-5 (CD45) glycoproteins of the mouse, expressed by all or most hematopoietic cell lineages and specified by a single L y-5 gene, range in size from isoform T200 of T cells (the smallest), in which exons 4, 5, and 6 are not represented, to isoform B220 of B cells (the largest), in which all three of these optional exons are represented. The main purpose of the present study, utilizing the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), was to ascertain whether known isoforms of intermediate size are generated by single or dual usage of optional exons 4, 5, and 6. Transcripts representing all eight isoforms predictable from varied use of three exons were observed among a diverse panel of nine B-cell tumors in culture, but there was no evident concordance with known contrasting differential features that distinguish members of the B-cell tumor panel. No two B tumors exhibited the same variety of transcripts and the relative quantities of transcripts expressed varied greatly from tumor to tumor. Cloning of B-cell tumors did not alter their distinctive transcript patterns. Separation methods (sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis; SDS-PAGE) did not suffice to segregate all corresponding expressed isoforms but did establish that transcripts representing usage of a single optional exon and of two optional exons were actually translated, which supports a provisional inference that all eight isoforms exist. The considerable diversity of B-cell transcript phenotypes was not seen among seven T-cell leukemias, two cytolytic T-cell lines, and three Th1 helper T-cell lines, all of which displayed a uniform phenotype comprising major expression of the T200 transcript (no optional exon) and minor expression of a transcript employing exon 5. However, a panel of five cloned Th2 T-cell lines, which represents a second and functionality different branch of the helper/inducer T-cell category, exhibited a characteristic transcript pattern which distinguished them from a panel of three Th1 T-cell lines. The major transcript in the Th2 lines was also T200, but the Th2 lines showed higher representation of transcript containing optional exons. A single Th2 clone expressed an unusual transcript suggesting a potential isoform not compounded simply by varied inclusion of the three identified optional exons. After activation of the helper T-cell lines with concanavalin A (Con A), expression of transcript containing optional exons appeared to decrease.
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