A full-length inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) gene has been sequenced for the first time outside the mammals, and the gene organization compared with that already determined for human iNOS. While there are some differences from the human gene, overall the exons show remarkable conservation in sequence and organization. As in human, the trout iNOS gene has 27 exons, with 18 of the trout exons being identical in size with the equivalent human exons. The cofactor-binding domains are found in the same exons and in some cases are absolutely conserved. Differences include the start of the ORF in exon 3 instead of exon 2, resulting in a deletion at the 5′ end of the trout iNOS protein. Exon 27 also shows a large difference in size and although the trout exon is larger this is due to the length of the 3′-UTR. Several non-mammalian features are notable, and include a conserved potential glycosylation site in chicken and fish, and an insertion at the boundary of exons 20 and 21 in fish. The intron sizes in trout were generally much smaller than in human iNOS, making the trout iNOS gene approximately half the size of the human gene. Analysis of RNA secondary structure revealed two regions with complementarity, which could interfere with reverse transcription. Using a trout fibroblast cell line (RTG-2 cells), it was shown by reverse transcriptase (RT)-PCR that virus infection was a good inducer of iNOS expression. However, when using a combination of Superscript™ II for reverse transcription and primers at the 5′ end of the gene only very weak products were amplified, in contrast with the situation when primers at the 3′ end of the gene were used, or ThermoScript™-derived cDNA was used. The impact of such results on RT-PCR analysis of iNOS expression in trout is discussed.

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