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Open Access Research article

Expression and characterization of novel ovine orthologs of bovine placental prolactin-related proteins

Koichi Ushizawa1, Toru Takahashi1*, Misa Hosoe1, Katsuhiro Ohkoshi1 and Kazuyoshi Hashizume2

Author Affiliations

1 Reproductive Biology Research Unit, Division of Animal Sciences, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, 2 Ikenodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8602, Japan

2 Department of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Agriculture, Iwate University, 3-18-8 Ueda, Morioka, Iwate 020-8550, Japan

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BMC Molecular Biology 2007, 8:95  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-95

Published: 25 October 2007



The prolactin-related proteins (PRPs) are non-classical placental-specific members of the prolactin/growth hormone family. Among ruminants, they are expressed in the cotyledonary villi of cattle and goat. We investigated placental PRP in sheep in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the function and evolution of these molecules. We also examined the sequence properties, expression and lactogenic activation of the cloned genes.


We cloned two novel ovine PRPs, named oPRP1 and oPRP2. oPRP2 had a typical PRP sequence similar to bovine PRP1 (bPRP1). oPRP1 had a short sequence identical with bovine or caprine type PRP but the reading frame was shifted. Both oPRPs were expressed in trophoblast giant binucleate cells (BNC) as in cattle and goat. oPRP1 expression declined from the early to the middle stage of gestation. In contrast, oPRP2 expression remained constant throughout the gestation period. oPRP2 was translated to form a mature protein in a mammalian cell expression system. Western blotting showed a molecular mass of 35 kDa for the FLAG-tag fusion oPRP2 protein. This recombinant protein and bPRP1 were bioassayed using Nb2 lymphoma cells; it was confirmed that neither ruminant PRP had lactogenic activity because the Nb2 lymphoma cells did not proliferate.


We have identified two novel PRPs, oPRP1 and oPRP2, in ovine placenta. Both these ovine PRPs were localized and quantitatively expressed in BNC. Absence of lactogenic activity was confirmed for the oPRP2 molecule. It is anticipated that novel and known ruminant PRPs have common functions, except for lactogenic activity.