Stefins or Type 1 cystatins belong to a large, evolutionarily conserved protein superfamily, the members of which inhibit the papain-like cysteine proteinases. We report here on the molecular cloning and chromosomal localization of three newly identified members of the murine stefin gene family. These genes, designated herein as mouse stefins 1, 2, and 3, were isolated on the basis of their relatively increased expression in motheaten viable compared to normal congenic mouse bone marrow cells. The open reading frames of the stefin cDNAs encode proteins of approximately 11.5 kDa that show between 50 and 92% identity to sequences of stefins isolated from various other species. Data from Southern analysis suggest that the murine stefin gene family encompasses at least 6 and possibly 10-20 members, all of which appear to be clustered in the genome. Analysis of interspecific backcross mice indicates that the genes encoding the three mouse stefins all map to mouse chromosome 16, a localization that is consistent with the recent assignment of the human stefin A gene to a region of conserved homology between human chromosome 3q and the proximal region of mouse chromosome 16.
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