Rat Growth Hormone Receptor/Growth Hormone-Binding Protein mRNAs with Divergent 5'-Untranslated Regions Are Expressed in a Tissue-Specific Manner

Horacio M. Domené, Fernando Cassorla, Haim Werner, Charles T. Roberts, Derek Leroith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


In the rat, the growth hormone receptor (GH-R) gene generates two transcripts, one encoding the transmembrane GH-R, and a shorter one encoding the GH-binding protein (GH-BP). These transcripts exhibit a high degree of heterogeneity in their 5'-untranslated regions (5'-UTRs). Some of the exons encoding these 5'-UTR variants may be flanked by distinct promoter regions whose activity would result in the tissue-specific expression of the GH-R gene. To assess this possibility, we used single-sided polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification to characterize 5'-UTR variants in rat GH-R cDNAs, and by using 5'-UTR-specific probes, we determined their pattern of expression in several tissues. Besides two previously described variants (V1 and V2), three new 5'-UTR variants were identified, extending 56 nucleotides (V3), 135 nucleotides (V4), and 209 nucleotides (V5) upstream of the ATG translation initiation codon. The expression of GH-R and GH-BP transcripts was clearly tissue specific. In the liver, GH-BP mRNA was the predominant transcript, whereas in other tissues, there was equivalent expression of both transcripts or predominant expression of GH-R mRNA. With respect to the tissue distribution of the 5'-UTR variants in particular, variants V1 and V5 exhibited a pattern of expression closely resembling that seen with an exon 2 probe, with the overall expression of variant V1 being much higher than that of variant V5. The V2 species was exclusively expressed in liver. Variant V3 was expressed at low levels in liver, muscle, heart, and kidney; in muscle and heart, it was preferentially associated with GH-BP transcripts. Variant V4, although present in liver, was more abundant in extrahepatic tissues and predominantly found in GH-R mRNA transcripts. Southern blot analyses were consistent with exon 2 and the exons encoding the V1 and V2 sequences being in proximity, with the other 5'-UTR sequences being encoded by exons located further upstream of exon 2. These findings support the concept that different 5'-UTR variants are the result of the different promoters acting in a tissue-specific manner. The association of specific 5'-UTR variants with either GH-R or GH-BP transcripts raises the possibility that the alternative splicing process that generates GH-BP mRNA in the rat might be controlled by the 5'-flanking region regulating the expression of specific leader exons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-204
Number of pages10
JournalDNA and Cell Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology


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