We describe the identification and characterization of a new gene deleted in the ACME contiguous gene syndrome. This gene is predominantly expressed in heart, skeletal muscle, spinal cord, and brain. Screening of placenta and NT2 cDNA libraries enabled us to obtain the 1.5-kb full-length transcript, which shows a 426-bp open reading frame. Since the resulting 142- amino-acid peptide has a single putative transmembrane domain and a weak but suggestive homology with KCNE1 (minK), a protein associated with the KCQ1 potassium channel (KVLQT1), we named this new gene KCNE1-like (KCNE1L). To obtain greater insight into this new member of an apparently distinct protein family, we have identified and characterized the homologous mouse gene (Kcne1l), which encodes a peptide of 143 amino acids with 91% homology and 80% identity. The expression pattern of mouse Kcne1l in the developing embryo revealed strong signal in ganglia, in the migrating neural crest cells of cranial nerves, in the somites, and in the myoepicardial layer of the heart. The specific distribution in adult tissues, the putative channel function, and the expression pattern in the developing mouse embryo suggest that KCNE1L could be involved in the development of the cardiac abnormalities as well as of some neurological signs observed in patients with ACME contiguous gene syndrome.
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