A 3204-bp full-length cDNA of bovine NALP9 was cloned and its genomic organization was analyzed. The 2988-bp open reading frame covers 9 exons and encodes a deduced protein of 996 amino acids containing Pyrin, Nacht and leucine-rich repeat domains like the human NALP gene family members. Mapping with the WGRH5000 panel and fluorescence in situ hybridization assigned NALP9 in close vicinity to BM2078 (LOD score 25.71; distance 0.0 cR5000) on bovine chromosome 18, BTA18q25-q26, within a previously identified QTL region for reproductive traits flanked by the bovine marker BM2078 and TGLA227. BAC contig analysis revealed that NALP9, NALP8, and NALP5 map in this QTL region. Temporospatial expression of these members of the NALP gene family was monitored. Among the adult tissues examined, transcripts of NALP8 and NALP9 were detected exclusively in testis and ovary, whereas transcripts of the NALP5 gene are limited to the ovary. The transcripts of NALP9, NALP8, and NALP5 were detected in oocytes before and after in vitro maturation and with a gradual decline from 2-cell to 8-cell stage, suggesting no reactivation at the time of bovine maternal to embryonic transition. Assignment to a QTL region for reproductive traits and preferential expression of NALP9, NALP8, and NALP5 in oocyte, germinal lineage, and gonad cells may suggest their functional relevance to reproduction and possible contribution to phenotypic variation.
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