The catalytic domain of the vacuolar proton ATPase is composed of a hexamer of three A subunits and three B subunits. Here we describe the cloning and characterization of a cDNA isoform of subunit B, HO57, from an osteoclastoma cDNA library. HO57 is represented by three species of mRNA of 1.6, 2.6 and 2.8 kb and is expressed at low levels in a range of human tissues, but at significantly higher levels in brain, kidney and osteoclastoma, and is probably an ubiquitously expressed isoform. In contrast, the kidney-specific isoform has an mRNA of 2 kb and is specifically expressed at high levels only in kidney and, at a lower level, in placenta. Thus the HO57 isoform is integral to the vacuolar ATPase found in the general secretory system of all cells as well as in vacuolar-ATPase-rich sources such as neurones and osteoclasts, whereas both the kidney-specific isoform and HO57 are highly expressed in the kidney. Furthermore, we show by in situ hybridization that HO57 is the only isoform that is exclusively and highly expressed by osteoclasts.

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