A family of genes encoding membrane proteins with a unique structure has been identified in DNA and cDNA clones of various eukaryotes ranging from yeast to human. The nucleotide sequences of three novel cDNAs from Drosophila melanogaster and mouse were determined. The amino acid sequences of the two mouse proteins have human homologs. The gene (TMS1) encoding the yeast member of this family was disrupted, and the resulting mutant showed no significant phenotype under several stress conditions. The expression of the mouse genes TMS-1 and TMS-2 was examined by in situ hybridization of sections from brain, liver, kidney, heart and testis of an adult mouse as well as in a 1-day-old whole mouse. While the expression of TMS-2 was found to be restricted to the central nervous system, TMS-1 was also expressed in kidney and testis. The expression of TMS-1 and TMS-2 in the brain overlapped and was localized to areas associated with glutamatergic excitatory neurons, such as the hippocampus and cerebral cortex. High-magnification analysis indicated that both mRNAs are expressed in neurons. Semiquantitative analysis of mRNA expression was performed in various parts of the brain. The conservation, unique structure and localization in the mammalian brain of this novel protein family suggest an important biological role.

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