Nucleotide sequence analysis of cDNA clones for bovine elastin revealed the occurrence of three mRNAs for elastin in fetal calf nuchal ligament, encoding three forms of elastins (a, b, and c, of 747, 733, and 713 amino acid residues, respectively). These forms arise as the result of the presence, at a single position, of 102 additional nucleotides in the mRNA for elastin a and of 60 of these nucleotides in the mRNA for elastin b as compared to the mRNA for elastin c. As expected, most lysines occur in pairs, separated by two or three small amino acid residues. However, at two places, lysines occur in groups of three. The occurrence of a group of three lysines followed by a hydrophobic residue (lysine 400, 404, and 407) offers an explanation for the formation of lysinonorleucine. The alignment of amino acid sequences of porcine tropoelastin tryptic peptides with the sequence for bovine elastin a results in the ordering of these tryptic peptides. The analysis of the complete primary structures of elastin a, b, and c provides further insight into the structure-function relations of elastin.
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