Osteopontin (Opn) contributes to diverse biological processes that include immune responses, vascularization, and bone formation. Until recently, studies describing the activities of Opn have focused on the cytokine-like properties of the secreted protein. Here, we show that alternative translation of a single Opn mRNA species generates a secreted and intracellular isoform. Utilization of a 5′ canonical translation start site generates a protein that includes an N-terminal signal sequence allowing targeting to secretory vesicles and cytokine secretion, whereas usage of a downstream start site generates a shortened protein that lacks the N-terminal signal sequence and localizes mainly to cytoplasm. The coordinated action of these Opn gene products regulates the functional phenotype of subsets of dendritic cells
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