Cadherins are a family of Ca2+-dependent cell adhesion molecules, that includes P-cadherin, E-cadherin, N-cadherin and L-CAM. In this study, the genomic organization of the mouse P-cadherin gene was determined by analyzing overlapping DNA clones obtained from a mouse genomic library. The results showed that this gene spans over 45kb and consists of 15 exons. A marked feature of this gene is that the first intron is 23kbp long accounting for half its length. Comparisons of this structure with that of L-CAM, a chicken cadherin, revealed that the exon-intron boundaries are conserved between the two genes except that the P-cadherin first exon includes the correspoding first and second exons of the L-CAM gene. This gene was also similar to the other in that the second intron, which corresponds to the P-cadherin first intron, is exceptionally longer than other introns. These results suggest that the exon-intron pattern conserved in these genes is of significance for generation of domain structure of cadherin molecules or for their transcriptional regulation. We also determined the chromosomal localization of the P-cadherin gene by interspecific backcross analysis, and found that this gene is located in the central region of mouse chromosome 8 and linked with the E-cadherin locus. This is the first evidence for the linkage of different cadherin genes.
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