LMP7 is one of the two proteasome subunits encoded in the major histocompatibility complex and is speculated to play a role in the generation of endogenous peptides for presentation by class I molecules to cytotoxic T cells. Here we report the genomic organization of the mouse Lmp-7 gene and the tissue distribution of its messenger RNA. In contrast to human LMP7 which is composed of seven exons and six introns, the mouse Lmp-7 gene is organized in six exons and five introns. Interestingly, the region corresponding to the first exon of human LMP7 is highly modified by numerous insertions and deletions and contains two in frame stop codons. Consequently, the mouse Lmp-7 gene does not allow the alternative exon usage described in humans and most likely encodes for only one LMP7 protein. Thus, the Tap-1 3′ end gene region and the Lmp-7 initial translation codon are separated by an 1182 nucleotide region which contains a TATA-box, a cAMP regulatory element, two SP1 sites, and two G-C-rich regions. Expression of the Lmp-7 messenger RNA was analyzed on different tissues from unstimulated mice. Lmp-7 messenger RNA is expressed in spleen, thymus, lung, liver, heart, and, at a very low level, in kidney but not in brain and testis. The possible role of Lmp genes in antigen processing is discussed.
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