Mammalian chitinase and chitinase-like proteins are members of a recently discovered gene family. Thus far, neither chitin nor chitin synthase has been found in mammals. The existence of chitinase genes in mammals is intriguing and the physiologic functions of chitinases are not clear. Human chitotriosidase, also called chitinase 1 (chit1), has been cloned. It has been found that high levels of serum chitotriosidase are associated with several diseases, but the physiologic functions of this enzyme are still unclear. To facilitate the studies in animal models we cloned and characterized a cDNA that encodes the mouse chitotriosidase. The open reading frame of this cDNA predicts a protein of 464 amino acids with a typical chitinase structure, including a signal peptide, a highly conserved catalytic domain and a chitin-binding domain. The predicted amino acid sequence is highly homologous to that of human chitotriosidase and to that of mouse acidic mammalian chitinase. Sequence analysis indicates that the mouse chitotriosidase gene has 12 exons, spanning a 40-kb region in mouse chromosome 1. The constitutive expression of mouse chitotriosidase is restricted to brain, skin, bone marrow, kidney, tongue, stomach and testis. Recombinant expression of the cloned cDNA demonstrated that the encoded protein is secreted and has chitinolytic activity that is sensitive to the specific chitinase inhibitor allosamidin and has the ability to bind to chitin particles. Substitution mutations at the conserved catalytic site completely abolished the enzymatic activity of the recombinant protein. These studies illustrate that mouse chitotriosidase is a typical chitinase that belongs to the mammalian chitinase gene family.
- Expression analysis
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