The neuronal cytoplasmic intermediate filament (IF) protein HeNF70 of the gastropod Helix aspersa is identified by sequence analysis of the corresponding 4,600 bp cDNA isolated from a cerebral ganglion cDNA library. HeNF70 shares 60% sequence identity with the neuronal LoNF70 protein of the cephalopod Loligo pealei and only 36% identity with the Helix non-neuronal IF-A protein. All three molluscan IF proteins display the lamin-type extended coil 1b subdomain harbouring six additional heptads and all have long C-terminal sequences with substantial homology to the tail domains of nuclear lamins. The lamin-like tail domains of the two neurofilament proteins share a unique motif comprising 13 residues, which is absent from Helix IF-A and all other known non-neuronal IF proteins. HeNF70 is encoded by a 9.5 kb RNA transcript. The very long 7.2 kb 3′-untranslated sequence contains a unique 26 nucleotide repeat extending over 0.5 kb in its 5′-region. The HeNF70 mRNA is expressed at low abundancy in cerebral ganglia but not in any of the 13 non-neuronal tissues tested. In contrast, all tissues express at fairly high levels the same 4.6 and 4.2 kb mRNAs encoding the Helix non-neuronal IF-A/B proteins. Blot hybridisation studies on genomic DNA and ganglion mRNA with subprobes from the cloned HeNF70 cDNA, as well as sequence analysis of an RT-PCR generated partial cDNA encoding a putative HeNF60 protein, indicate at least two different neuronal IF genes in Helix.

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