The inter-alpha-inhibitor family is composed of the plasma-protease inhibitors inter-alpha-inhibitor, pre-alpha-inhibitor and bikunin. Inter-alpha-inhibitor and pre-alpha-inhibitor are distinct assemblies of bikunin with distinct sets from three heavy (H) chains designated H1, H2 and H3. These H chains are encoded by a set of three evolutionarily related H genes, and bikunin by an alpha-1-microglobulin/bikunin precursor gene (AMBP). This precursor is cleaved to yield bikunin, a member of the Kunitz-type protease-inhibitor superfamily, and alpha-1-microglobulin, which belongs to the lipocalin superfamily. Northern-blot experiments with RNAs obtained from various tissues in fetal and in adult mice indicated that the transcription of the four AMBP and H genes is liver-restricted, although there is expression of H3 in brain. An analysis of the H1, H2, H3 and AMBP transcripts, as well as of transcripts for other control genes, in liver during development showed a progressive increase in the amounts of the H1, H2, H3 and AMBP RNAs, which all peak transiently at day 5 after birth. This was shown by a nuclear run-on experiment to originate from a change in transcription rate. The transient and postnatal increase in transcription could be explained neither by the liver-restricted expression nor by a common origin of these four genes, nor by a perinatal requirement for many lipocalins or protease inhibitors. This suggests that all four genes are perinatally triggered at the level of similar elements in their transcriptional regulatory regions, a conclusion strengthened by the weak expression of the four genes that is seen in a mutant mouse strain (albino) that is deficient in some liver-specific transcription factors.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.