The X-linked cyclin-dependent kinase-like 5 (CDKL5) gene is an important molecular determinant of early-onset intractable seizures with infantile spasms and Rett syndrome-like phenotype. The gene encodes a kinase that may influence components of molecular pathways associated with MeCP2. In humans there are two previously reported splice variants that differ in the 5′ untranslated exons and produce the same 115 kDa protein. Furthermore, very recently, a novel transcript including a novel exon (16b) has been described. By aligning both the human and mouse CDKL5 proteins to the orthologs of other species, we identified a theoretical 107 kDa isoform with an alternative C-terminus that terminates in intron 18. In human brain and all other tissues investigated except the testis, this novel isoform is the major CDKL5 transcript. The detailed characterisation of this novel isoform of CDKL5 reveals functional and subcellular localisation attributes that overlap greatly, but not completely, with that of the previously studied human CDKL5 protein. Considering its predominant expression in the human and mouse brain, we believe that this novel isoform is likely to be of primary pathogenic importance in human diseases associated with CDKL5 deficiency, and suggest that screening of the related intronic sequence should be included in the molecular genetic analyses of patients with a suggestive clinical phenotype.
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