Relaxin is a polypeptide hormone that has a variety of physiological effects both on remodelling of collagen and on uterine contractility. These are most apparent during pregnancy. The sequences of relaxin cDNAs derived from ovaries of late-pregnant random-bred Swiss mice have been established. Multiple subclones obtained from three independent polymerase chain reaction experiments were found to encode relaxins which were identical except at position 11 in the A chain (Ile or Val). All mouse relaxin cDNAs expressed in the ovary during pregnancy had an extra tyrosine inserted prior to the final A chain cysteine residue, a result confirmed by direct sequencing of relaxin peptides. Whilst this tyrosine insertion must have local effects on the folding of the A chain, structure—activity studies will clarify whether it perturbs functional interaction with the relaxin receptor. We have shown that there is a single relaxin gene in the mouse genome, and that expression during pregnancy occurs in the ovary but is not detectable in the placenta, uterus or fetus.
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