This paper describes the cloning and characterization of a new member of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) gene family, which we have designated VRF for VEGF-related-factor. Sequencing of cDNAs from a human fetal brain library and RT-PCR products from normal and tumor tissue cDNA pools indicate two alternatively spliced messages with open reading frames of 621 and 564 bp, respectively. The predicted proteins differ at their carboxyl ends resulting from a shift in the open reading frame. Both isoforms show strong homology to VEGF at their amino termini, but only the shorter isoform maintains homology to VEGF at its carboxyl terminus and conserves all 16 cysteine residues of VEGF165. Similarity comparisons of this isoform revealed overall protein identity of 48% and conservative substitution of 69% with VEGF189. VRF is predicted to contain a signal peptide, suggesting that it may be a secreted factor. The VRF gene maps to the D11S750 locus at chromosome band 11q13, and the protein coding region, spanning approximately 5 kb, is comprised of 8 exons that range in size from 36 to 431 bp. Exons 6 and 7 are contiguous and the two isoforms of VRF arise through alternate splicing of exon 6. VRF appears to be ubiquitously expressed as two transcripts of 2.0 and 5.5 kb; the level of expression is similar among normal and malignant tissues
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