Calpains are a superfamily of related proteins, some of which have been shown to function as calcium-dependent cysteine proteases. In mammals, eight different calpains have been identified. We report the identification of a new mammalian calpain gene, CAPN11. The predicted protein possesses the features typical of calpains including potential protease and calcium-binding domains. The CAPN11 mRNA exhibits a highly restricted tissue distribution with highest levels present in testis. Radiation hybrid mapping localized the gene to human chromosome 6, within a region mapped to p12. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that, in mammals, the predicted CAPN11 protein is most closely related to CAPN1 and CAPN2. However, of the calpain sequences available, the predicted CAPN11 sequence exhibits greatest homology to the chicken μ/m calpain. Thus CAPN11 may be the human orthologue of μ/m calpain. The discovery of this new calpain emphasizes the complexity of the calpain family, with members being distinguished on the basis of protease activity, calcium dependence, and tissue expression.
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