cDNA clones coding for rabbit prolactin were isolated from a pituitary library using a rat prolactin RNA probe. One cDNA contained 873 bases including the entire coding sequence of rabbit prolactin, its signal peptide and the 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions of 44 and 145 nucleotides respectively. The deduced amino acid sequence of the cloned prolactin cDNA presented a 93–78% identity with mink, porcine and human prolactins. The prolactin gene transcription was investigated by RT-PCR analysis in several organs of midlactating New Zealand White rabbits. The ectopic transcription of the prolactin gene was examined in more detail in the mammary gland. A strong PCR signal was detected in the mammary gland of virgin does and was also observed during pregnancy and at the beginning of lactation. This PCR signal was very weak in mid-lactating and absent in post-weaning mammary gland.
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