Human CDP/cut and its murine counterpart, cux1/CDP are homeodomain repressor proteins in the family of Drosophila Cut. Northern blot analysis reveals complex alternative splicing, including forms too small to encode the full 1505 amino acid protein. We have characterized a CDP/cut alternatively spliced cDNA (CASP) of 3.4 kb. Human CASP, a predicted 678 amino acid polypeptide, shares 400 amino acids with CDP, but has an alternate N terminal exon of 20 aa, and the C-terminal 258 amino acids diverge from CDP/cut entirely. As the unique C-terminus of CASP lacks the three ‘cut-repeats’ and homeodomain of CDP/cut, we predict it does not bind DNA. Murine CASP, 96% similar to human, shares these features. Database searches identify homologs in chicken (86% identical to human CASP) and yeast (29% identical to human). Murine CASP mRNA is ubiquitous in mouse tissues and in tissue-culture cell lines. We generated a specific antiserum against the unique C-terminus of CASP, and used this reagent to demonstrate that CASP protein is expressed as an approx. 80 kDa protein in human and murine cells. Co-translation of in vitro-translated CDP and CASP mRNA, followed by immunoprecipitation with specific anti-CASP IgG, shows that CASP polypeptide can form a complex with CDP. Studies of the intron/exon structure of the murine cux/CDP/mCASP locus (&100 kb) reveal that the unique 3∞ exons of CASP are interposed between cut-repeats 2 and 3 of the cux gene. We speculate that a primordial CASP-like gene captured a cut-repeat-homeobox gene to give rise to the eukaryotic Cut/CDP family of proteins. © 1997 Elsevier Science B.V.
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