The recently identified 63 kDa membrane protein, p63, is a resident protein of a membrane network interposed in between rough ER and Golgi apparatus. To characterize p63 at the molecular level a 2.91 kb cDNA encoding p63 has been isolated from a human placenta lambda gt10 cDNA library. Sequence analysis of tryptic peptides prepared from isolated p63 confirmed the identify of the cloned gene. The translated amino acid sequence consists of 601 amino acids (65.8 kDa) with a single putative membrane-spanning region and a N-terminal cytoplasmic domain of 106 amino acids. The human p63 cDNA exhibits a high level of sequence identify to the pig hepatic cDNA 3AL (accession number M27092) whose expression is enhanced after resuscitation from circulatory shock. An additional remarkable feature of p63 is that it becomes reversibly palmitoylated when intracellular protein transport is blocked by the drug brefeldin A. Overexpression of p63 in COS cells led to the development of a striking tubular membrane network in the cytoplasm. This suggests that the protein may be determinant for the structure of the p63 compartment.

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