By using the combination of reverse-transcription PCR and rapid amplification of cDNA ends methods, two distinct cDNAs encoding mast-cell proteases (chymases; MCPs), designated as gMCP-1 and -2, were successfully cloned and sequenced from the jejunum of Mongolian gerbil, Meriones unguiculatus, infected with Nippostrongylus brasiliensis. On the basis of a comparison of the deduced amino acid sequences with those of known rodent mast-cell chymases, gMCP-1 was found to be highly similar to mouse mast-cell protease (mMCP)-4 and rat mast-cell protease (rMCP)-1, while gMCP-2 was similar to mMCP-5 and rMCP-3. Although mMCP-4 and -5 and rMCP-1 and -3 were restrictedly or mainly expressed in connective-tissue mast cells and serosal mast cells, the gMCP-1 and -2 genes were mainly transcribed in the jejunal mucosa and to a lesser extent in the skin and tongue. Moreover, kinetic study after infection revealed that the amounts of the gMCP-1 and -2 mRNAs in jejunum paralleled well the degree of intestinal mastocytosis. The expression of gMCP-1 and -2 in mucosal mast cells of gerbil jejunum was also confirmed by in situ hybridization. Since a tryptase, another type of MCP, was also expressed in mucosal mast cells of gerbils but not in those of mice and rats, the expression of MCPs in mucosal mast cells of gerbils is different from those of mice and rats. The Mongolian gerbil would be a useful model with which to investigate the physiopathological role of MCPs.

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Author notes

The nucleotide sequence data reported in this paper will appear in the GSDB, DDBJ, EMBL and NCBI nucleotide sequence databases with the following accession numbers, D45173 (gMCP-1) and D45174 (gMCP-2).