The human homologue (MNBH/DYRK1) of the Drosophila minibrain gene maps to human chromosome 21 within the Down syndrome (DS) critical region and is within the region minimally deleted in chromosome 21-linked microcephaly. As a first step in gaining insight into the role that MNBH may have in human neurogenesis, and as a lead-up to the development of mouse models for MNBH overexpression, we have characterized the gene at the molecular level. We describe here the MNBH full-length transcript, alternative splicing, expression profile, and genomic organization. The full-length cDNA of MNBH is 5.2 kb and is composed of 17 exons spanning 150 kb, between markers D21S335 and D21S337. Transcripts MNBHa and MNBHb arise from the use of different first exons in the 5'-UTR and are differentially expressed. MNBHa is expressed ubiquitously in a broad spectrum of tissues and is apparently under the control of a CpG island. MNBHb is expressed only in heart and skeletal muscle and is apparently under the control of a TATA-like box. Four alternative splicing events affecting the C-terminus of the protein yield at least four isoforms of MNBH (MNBH-iso1, MNBH-iso2, MNBH-iso3, and MNBH- iso4). A PEST sequence, potentially involved in the rapid degradation of the protein, is present in all the isoforms. A histidine repeat and a serine/threonine domain are present only in the largest form of the protein (MNBH-iso1). MNBH was overexpressed 1.5-fold in DS brains and Dyrk1 about 2.1-fold in the brains of the Ts65Dn mice. The information provided here should be valuable for MNBH mutation studies and aid in the development of DS animal models.
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