We report the isolation of the murine ortholog of AIM1, a human gene whose expression is associated with the reversal of tumorigenicity in an experimental model of melanoma. Mouse and human AIM1 are more than 90% identical in amino acid sequence in the βγ-crystallin repeats and the C- terminal domain, and more than 75% identical in the extended N-terminal domain. Consistent with the isolated cDNA representing the authentic AIM1 ortholog, linkage analysis localized mouse Aim1 to proximal mouse Chromosome (Chr) 10 in a conserved linkage group with genes localized to human Chr band 6q21. Searches of EST databases identified a second AIM1-like gene in both mouse and human, suggesting the existence of a gene family. Northern analysis demonstrates Aim1 is expressed most abundantly in adult skin, lung, heart, liver, and kidney and is temporally regulated during embryogenesis. Aim1 is expressed highly in the shaft region of the hair follicles and the presumptive ectoderm, but not at detectable levels in melanocytes or melanocyte precursor cells.
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