The cystatin superfamily of cysteine protease inhibitors consists of three major families, including the stefins, cystatins and kininogens. However, the recent identification of several genes that possess sequence similarity with the cystatins but have different gene or protein structures indicates that several new cystatin families or subgroups of families might exist. We previously identified the cystatin-related epididymal spermatogenic (Cres) gene, which is related to the family 2 cystatins but exhibits highly tissue-specific expression in the reproductive tract. In the studies presented here, an analysis of gene structure as well as chromosomal mapping studies suggest that the Cres gene might represent a new subgroup within the family 2 cystatins. Although the Cres gene possesses an additional exon encoding 5ʹ untranslated sequences, its coding exons are similar in size to the three coding exons of the cystatin family 2 genes, and the Cres exon/intron splice junctions occur in identical locations as in the cystatin C gene. Furthermore, chromosomal mapping studies show that the Cres gene co-segregates with the cystatin C gene on mouse chromosome 2. Similar to the cystatin family 2 proteins, the Cres protein possesses the type A and B disulphide loops that are necessary for cystatin folding. Interestingly, Cres protein also possesses half of a type C disulphide loop. Although probably related to the cystatin genes, the Cres gene is distinct in that its promoter contains consensus motifs typical of regulated genes. Finally, reverse transcriptase-mediated PCR studies and the identification of new Cres cDNA clones indicate that the Cres mRNA is alternatively spliced, resulting in two Cres

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