Through cloning of functional p53-binding sites (p53-tagged sites) from the human genome, we isolated a novel gene inducible by wild-type p53. Its cDNA sequence contained an open reading frame encoding a 431-amino acid peptide that showed a significant homology with members of the P2X family. This protein also revealed a similarity to RP-2, a gene activated in thymocytes undergoing programmed cell death. Northern blot analysis showed that it was expressed predominantly in skeletal muscle. Hence, we designated the gene P2XM (P2X specifically expressed in skeletal muscle). P2XM was localized to chromosomal band 22q11, where frequent loss of heterozygosity has been observed in rhabdoid tumors. Although we detected no genetic alteration in the coding sequences, one of four rhabdomyosarcoma cell lines examined had completely lost expression of this gene. Furthermore, a minor splice variant lacking a part of exon 1 that would encode residues corresponding to transmembrane domain M1 was relatively more abundant in two of seven sarcoma cell lines, one of which was derived from a rhabdomyosarcoma, and the other was derived from an osteosarcoma. The results suggest that P2XM may play a significant role in the proliferation and/or differentiation of skeletal muscle cells and that its altered expression may be involved in the development of some sarcomas.

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