A cDNA library prepared from the mouse osteoblastic cell line MC3T3-E1 was screened for the presence of specifically expressed genes by employing a combined subtraction hybridization/differential screening approach. A cDNA was identified and sequenced which encodes a protein designated osteoblast-specific factor 2 (OSF-2) comprising 811 amino acids. OSF-2 has a typical signal sequence, followed by a cysteine-rich domain, a fourfold repeated domain and a C-terminal domain. The protein lacks a typical transmembrane region. The fourfold repeated domain of OSF-2 shows homology with the insect protein fasciclin I. RNA analyses revealed that OSF-2 is expressed in bone and to a lesser extent in lung, but not in other tissues. Mouse OSF-2 cDNA was subsequently used as a probe to clone the human counterpart. Mouse and human OSF-2 show a high amino acid sequence conservation except for the signal sequence and two regions in the C-terminal domain in which ‘in-frame’ insertions or deletions are observed, implying alternative splicing events. On the basis of the amino acid sequence homology with fasciclin I, we suggest that OSF-2 functions as a homophilic adhesion molecule in bone formation.

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