Monoclonal antibodies that specifically recognize a membrane component located on the sinusoidal domain of the hepatocyte have been used to screen a rat liver cDNA expression library and a clone encoding a novel transporter (NLT) protein has been identified. Analysis of the deduced 535 amino acid protein sequence indicates that it is unique, but shares the twelve-transmembrane domain hydrophathicity profile as well as the presence of transporter-specific amino acid motifs with bacterial and mammalian transporters. Since overall homology of NLT to known transporter genes is low (20-25% identity) it may represent a new subgroup within the transporter family of proteins. The NLT was characterized further with respect to its tissue distribution and its expression during liver development. A 2.1 kb transcript has been found in liver and at lower levels in kidney, but not in several other tissues tested. Studies on the developing liver indicate that NLT transcripts are present at a very low level from 19 through 21 gestation days with a 4- to 5-fold increase within two weeks after birth. Overall, we have cloned a novel transporter that is preferentially expressed in liver, is located on the sinusoidal domain of the plasma membrane and represents a marker for the late stage of liver development.

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