We describe a novel epididymis-specific cDNA named Glb1l4, which was isolated from rat epididymis by differential display of mRNAs. Glb1l4 cDNA contains 2607 nucleotides and encodes a 637-amino acid protein with 50% similarity to mouse beta-galactosidase. The gene is located on chromosome 8q13, spanning 21 exons. Northern blot analysis reveals that Glb1l4 is specifically expressed in the caput region of epididymis and upregulated by androgen. A specific polyclonal antiserum against the N-terminal peptide of GLB1L4 has been produced. Western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry assay reveal that GLB1L4 is specifically expressed in the principal cells of the caput epididymis. Interestingly, its expression peaks at Postnatal Day 45 in mRNA level and at Postnatal Day 60 in protein level while the epididymis column cells undergo differentiation. Moreover, within this very period this secretory protein is confined inside the cell with a change of subcellular distribution pattern, which implies its important roles in the cell differentiation process. Only after the epididymal epithelium differentiation is completed and the spermatozoa enter the epididymal lumen is the GLB1L4 secreted into the luminal fluid and bound on the sperm head. Our results suggest that GLB1L4 may play various roles in principal cell differentiation and sperm maturation.
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Vol. 80 • No. 4