ADP-ribosylation factor-like protein 4 (ARL4) is a Ras-related GTPase that has been cloned from the 3T3-L1 preadipocyte cell line as an adipocyte-specific cDNA [Schürmann, Breiner, Becker, Huppertz, Kainulainen, Kentrup and Joost (1994) J. Biol. Chem. 269, 15683–15688]. The Arl4 gene maps to the proximal region of mouse chromosome 12 linked to Lamb1-1, Hfhbf1 and Sos2. Compared with all other known genes of Ras-related GTPases, the genomic organization of Arl4 is unusual in that its entire coding region, the 3´ untranslated region (UTR) and most of the 5´ UTR are located on a single exon. This structure suggests that Arl4 has evolved by retroposition of an Arf (ADP-ribosylation factor) or Arf-like gene. Isolation of the 5´ UTR by rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE)-PCR revealed heterogeneous transcription initiation sites in alternative exons 1. Both 5´-flanking regions exhibited promoter activity when expressed in COS-7 cells, indicating that the expression of Arl4 is directed by two separate promoters. mRNA transcribed under the control of the downstream promoter was isolated by RACE-PCR from all investigated tissues. In contrast, the upstream promoter seems to drive specifically the expression of Arl4 in adult testis. Hybridization of rat testis in situ indicated that Arl4 is expressed in germ cells of puberal and adult testis, but not in prepuberal testis, suggesting that Arl4 is involved in sperm production.

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