Several types of evidence indicate that the gene coding for the skeletal muscle actin is expressed in the rat heart: 1) A recombinant plasmid containing an insert with a nucleotide sequence identical to that of the homologous region of skeletal muscle actin gene was isolated from a cDNA library prepared on rat cardiac mRNA template. 2) Using specific probes it was found that the hearts of newborn rats contain a significant amount of skeletal muscle actin mRNA. The quantity of this mRNA in the heart decreases during development. 3) The skeletal muscle actin gene is DNAase I sensitive in nuclei from rat heart tissue. A plasmid containing a cDNA insert homologous to a part of the cardiac actin mRNA was isolated and sequenced. It was found that in spite of the great similarity between the amino acid sequence of the skeletal muscle and cardiac actins, the nucleotide sequences of the two mRNAs are considerably divergent. There is only limited sequence homology between the 3' untranslated regions of the two mRNAs. However, there is an extensive sequence homology between the 3' untranslated regions of the rat and human cardiac mRNAs, suggesting a functional role for this region of the gene or mRNA.
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