Employing postpubertal testicular tissue, we determined the cDNA coding sequence of a truncated canine relaxin-like factor (RLF) consisting of a signal peptide of 28 amino acids (aa), a B-domain of 23 aa, a truncated C-domain of 34 aa, and an A domain of 26 aa, respectively. Within the B-domain of canine RLF, the putative relaxin receptor binding motif contained a single substitution with the C-terminal arginine replaced by a serine residue, and the putative RLF receptor binding motif was truncated. Leydig cells specifically expressed RLF in the normal postpubertal and cryptochid testis as well as in testicular Leydig cell adenoma. The epididymis was an additional source of RLF in the dog. In the female reproductive tract, expression of immunoreactive RLF and relaxin were compared. Within the ovary, RLF, but not relaxin, was detected in follicular theca interna and granulosa cells and the corpus luteum. In the nonpregnant uterus, luminal and glandular epithelium coexpressed RLF and relaxin. Uteroplacental tissue at early stages of gestation revealed RLF expression in the proliferative fetal villous cytotrophoblast and in maternal uterine cells. In the mature canine placenta, the trophoblast surrounding the maternal blood vessels and the hemophagous cytotrophoblast of the paraplacental zone expressed RLF. Canine relaxin was absent in the paraplacental areas. Western analysis of placental tissue extracts revealed the presence of specific immunoreactive bands likely resembling unprocessed and enzymatically cleaved RLF. Differential expression of RLF and relaxin appears to reflect distinct autocrine and paracrine functions of RLF in canine reproductive tissues.
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