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I C Dunn, Y Chen, C Hook, P J Sharp, and H M Sang


Partial cDNA clones for chicken gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH)-I were isolated by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction using total RNA from the hypothalami of domestic chickens. Primers for amplification were based on the nucleotide sequence of the mammalian GnRH genes. These amplified clones were used to screen a genomic library from which a series of overlapping clones was isolated. A 63 kb EcoRI fragment containing all the exons and 3·0 kb of the 5′ upstream region was sequenced. The exon—intron structure of the gene was found to be of a similar configuration to those of the mammalian and osteichthyes GnRH genes analysed so far. Individual domains of the predicted prepropeptide are similar to those of mammalian GnRH prepropeptides, comprising a 23 amino acid signal peptide, the decapeptide hormone and a Gly-Lys-Arg cleavage site, followed by a 56 amino acid GnRH-associated peptide. The nucleotide sequence coding for the decapeptide hormone translates into the amino sequence for chicken GnRH-I. The prepropeptide has approximately 50% identity with mammalian prepropeptides and 25% identity with the teleost prepropeptides.

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R T Talbot, I C Dunn, P W Wilson, H M Sang, and P J Sharp


Two forms of chicken vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) mRNA have been identified by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR and RNase protection assay. The shorter form of chicken VIP mRNA encodes a protein that does not contain an analogue of rat peptide histidine isoleucine (PHI) 1–27 or human peptide histidine methionine 1–27. The larger form encodes both VIP and a chicken analogue of PHI 1–27 in the same protein product.

Three VIP cDNAs isolated from a chicken hypothalamic cDNA library were derived from the shorter mRNA. Sequence analysis of the longest clone identified an open reading frame that codes for a 165 amino acid preproVIP protein and contains two polyadenylation signals. In situ hybridisation with an oligonucleotide probe from the VIP cDNA sequence showed that VIP-encoding mRNA occurs in cells in the basal hypothalamus, an area of the brain known to contain VIP neurosecretory neurones. RT-PCR of total RNA from liver, kidney, gut, pancreas, pituitary, cerebellum, forebrain and hypothalamus, using primers derived from the VIP cDNA sequence, showed that the shorter form of VIP mRNA is present in all of these tissues. The sequence of the longer form of VIP mRNA was obtained by sequencing a portion of the VIP gene from genomic DNA. This revealed a potential exon that was not represented in the VIP cDNA clones analysed. RT-PCR with primers from this sequence showed that it was expressed in the gut and hypothalamus. RNase protection assays confirmed the presence of the two forms of mRNA in gut and hypothalamus. The relative proportions of the two mRNA forms were: 97·8% VIP only, 2·2% PHI/VIP in the hypothalamus and 98·5% VIP only, 1·5% PHI/VIP in the gut.

In conclusion, chicken VIP mRNA is alternatively spliced. The shortest form, which encodes a preproprotein containing only the VIP peptide, is the most abundant. The longer form of chicken VIP mRNA encodes a preproprotein containing sequences for both VIP and a chicken form of PHI.