The characterization of mouse carboxypeptidase N small subunit gene structure and presence in developing embryos

Kirstin Renee Watts Matthews, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Carboxypeptidase N (CPN) is a plasma zinc metalloprotease, which consists of two enzymatically active small subunits and two large subunits that protect the protein from degradation. CPN cleaves carboxy-terminal arginines and lysines from peptides found in the bloodstream such as complement anaphylatoxins, kinins, and creatine kinase MM. In this study, the mouse CPN small subunit (CPN1) coding region, gene structure, and chromosomal location were characterized and the expression of CPN1 was investigated in mouse embryos at different stages of development. The CPN1 gene, which was approximately 29 kb in length, contained nine exons and localized to mouse chromosome 19D2. The fifth and sixth exons of CPN1 encoded the amino acids necessary for substrate binding and catalytic activity. CPN1 RNA was expressed predominately in adult liver and contained a 1371 bp open reading frame encoding 457 amino acids. In the mouse embryo, CPN1 RNA was observed at 8.5 days post coitus (dpc), while its protein was detected at 10.5 dpc. In situ hybridization of the fetal liver detected CPN1 RNA in erythroid progenitor cells at 10.5, 13.5, and 16.5 dpc and in hepatocytes at 16.5 dpc. This was compared to the expression of the complement component C3, the parent molecule of complement anaphylatoxin C3a. Consistently throughout the experiments, CPN1 message and protein preceded the expression of C3. To obtain a better understanding of the biological significance of CPN1 in vivo, studies were initiated to produce a genetically engineered mouse in which the CPN1 gene was ablated. To facilitate this project a targeting vector was constructed by removing the functionally important fifth and sixth exons of the CPN1 gene. Collectively, these studies have: (1) provided important detailed information regarding the structure and organization of the murine CPN1 gene, (2) yielded insights into the developmental expression of mouse CPN1 in relationship to C3 expression, and (3) set the stage for the generation of a CPN1 “knock-out” mouse, which can be used to determine the biological significance of CPN1 in both normal and diseased conditions.

Subject Area

Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Matthews, Kirstin Renee Watts, "The characterization of mouse carboxypeptidase N small subunit gene structure and presence in developing embryos" (2003). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3083500.