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C Bignon, N Binart, C Ormandy, LA Schuler, PA Kelly, and J Djiane

Prolactin is a pituitary hormone that binds to specific receptors in numerous tissues. Depending on the size of their cytoplasmic domain, long and short prolactin receptors (l-PR, s-PR) have been described. Up to now, s-PR were found in rodents only. We report here the cloning of full-length coding sequences for short and long ovine prolactin receptors (s-oPR, l-oPR). The only difference between s- and l-oPR coding sequences was, respectively, the presence or absence of a 39 base pair insert at the beginning of the cytoplasmic domain, with two contiguous inframe stop codons at its 3' end. Sequence comparison revealed that the alternative splicing producing s- and l-oPR was different from that of rodents, although the resulting proteins were very similar. PCR experiments on ovine genomic DNA showed that the 39 base pair insert was directly linked to the downstream exon, and separated from the upstream exon by an 800 base pair intron. Thus, the alternative splicing used a single intron with one 5' and two 3' sites. The same organization was found in bovine and caprine genomes, suggesting that this feature is general in ruminants and different from rodents, which use mutually exclusive exons to produce s-PR and l-PR.