We have previously identified a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-linked glycoprotein of 55 kDa (GP55) which inhibits neurite outgrowth. We now provide evidence that GP55, isolated from adult chick brain, consists of at least two bands, both of which are active, i.e., block outgrowth of neurites from chick dorsal root ganglion neurons. An antiserum raised against the adult proteins reverses the inhibition and preliminary experiments suggest that GP55 is restricted to the nervous system, increases during development from very low levels at embryonic day 10 and is most abundant after hatching. Immunofluorescence reveals that GP55 is expressed on neurons cultured from an embryonic day 14 chick brain but is barely detectable on embryonic day 10 dorsal root ganglion neurons or embryonic day 8 forebrain neurons; the neurons which respond to substrate-bound GP55. Peptide sequencing revealed considerable homology with OBCAM, a protein previously identified on the basis of binding opiates. Nested polymerase chain reaction using primers to the OBCAM sequence and internal primers to GP55 peptides produced two different polymerase chain reaction fragments with homology to OBCAM. A full length clone (E19S) corresponding to one polymerase chain reaction product and a partial length clone (E14S) corresponding to the second have been isolated from an embryonic chick brain library. Both are members of the immunoglobulin superfamily and have (or are expected to have) three C2 domains. E19S has 90% homology with LAMP at the amino acid level. This sequence only partially matches the peptides from the adult protein and hence is probably not a major component of the adult proteins. E14S (GP55-A) has 83% homology to OBCAM at the amino acid level over the region sequenced. The sequence matches several of the peptides from the adult protein and is hence likely to correspond to a major component of the adult proteins. Thus members of the GP55 family are related to OBCAM, neurotrimin, LAMP and a recently discovered chick protein CEPU-1. Our results suggest molecules within this family are capable of acting as cell adhesion molecules and inhibitors of neurite outgrowth.

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