The present work reports isolation and characterization of a highly glycosylated protein from bovine milk fat globule membranes, known as PAS III. Partial amino-acid sequencing of the purified protein allowed construction of degenerate oligonucleotide primers, enabling isolation of a full-length cDNA encoding a protein of 330 amino-acid residues. N-terminal amino-acid sequencing of derived peptides and the purified protein confirmed 76% of the sequence and demonstrated presence of a cleavable signal peptide of 23 residues, leaving a mature protein of 307 amino acids. Database searches showed no homology to any other proteins. A survey of the human genome indicated the presence of a corresponding gene on chromosome band 11p14.3. Isolation and sequencing of the complete cDNA sequence of the human homologue proved the existence of the gene product (334 amino-acid residues). This novel mucin-like protein was named MUC15 by appointment of the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee. The deduced amino-acid sequences of human and bovine MUC15 demonstrated structural hallmarks characteristic for other membrane-bound mucins, such as a serine, threonine, and proline-rich extracellular region with several potential glycosylation sites, a putative transmembrane domain, and a short cytoplasmic C-terminal. We have shown the presence of O-glycosylations, identified N-glycosylations at 11 of 15 potential sites in bovine MUC15, and a splice variant encoding a short secreted mucin. Finally, analysis of human and bovine cDNA panels and libraries showed MUC15 gene expression in adult human spleen, thymus, prostate, testis, ovary, small intestine, colon, peripheral blood leukocyte, bone marrow, lymph node, tonsil, breast, fetal liver, bovine lymph nodes and lungs of both species.
F E B S Journal, 2002, Vol 269, Issue 11, p. 2755-2763