Human melanocytes and melanomas express novel mRNA isoforms of the tyrosinase-related protein-2/DOPAchrome tautomerase gene: Molecular and functional characterization

Patrizia Pisarra, Raffaella Lupetti, Anna Palumbo, Alessandra Napolitano, Giuseppe Prota, Giorgio Parmiani, Andrea Anichini, Marialuisa Sensi

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We previously reported that a melanoma antigen, recognized by tumor- specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes, was encoded by intron sequences retained in a partially spliced transcript of the tyrosinase-related protein-2/DOPAchrome tautomerase gene. At difference with the mRNA encoding tyrosinase-related protein-2, this anomalous transcript was not expressed in melanocytes. This study examined whether neoplastic and/or normal cells of the melanocytic lineage could express additional forms of tyrosinase-related protein-2 mRNA. Screening of a melanoma-derived cDNA library with a tyrosinase-related protein-2 probe allowed identification of two novel isoforms. The first, tyrosinase-related protein-2-long tail, corresponds to the dominant transcript detected on melanomas and melanocytes by northern blot analysis. Tyrosinase-related protein-2-long tail is identical to the tyrosinase-related protein-2-encoding published cDNA sequence except for an extended 3'- untranslated region and is originated by alternative polyadenylation. This novel 3'-untranslated region contains an alternatively spliced, tyrosinase- related protein-2 last exon in the second isoform (tyrosinase-related protein-2-8b). The protein encoded by tyrosinase-related protein-2-8b is identical to tyrosinase-related protein-2 in its first 460 amino acids but possesses a different carboxyl-terminus devoid of transmembrane domain. Tyrosinase-related protein-2-long tail exhibited DOPA-chrome tautomerase activity, when transiently transfected into COS-7 cells. On the contrary, no detectable activity was exhibited by tyrosinase-related protein-2-8b. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis indicated that tyrosinase- related protein-2-long tail and tyrosinase-related protein-2-8b are expressed by tyrosinase-related protein-2-positive melanomas and normal melanocytes. Moreover all cell lines positive for tyrosinase-related protein-2 isoforms expressed tyrosinase and, all but one, tyrosinase-related protein-1. These data show that the human tyrosinase-related protein-2/DOPAchrome tautomerase gene can yield different isoforms by alternative poly(A) site usage or by alternative splicing. The pattern of expression of these isoforms suggest that they might play a part in the normal pathway of melanin biosynthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Alternative polyadenylation
  • Alternative splicing
  • Melanoma antigens
  • Pigmentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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