Vasopressin (VP) and oxytocin (OT) play critical roles in the regulation of salt and water balance, lactation, and various behaviors and are expressed at very high levels in specific magnocellular neurons (MCNs) in the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial system (HNS). In addition to the cell-specific expression of the VP and OT genes in these cells, there are other transcripts that are preferentially expressed in the VP or OT MCNs. One such gene, paternally expressed gene 3 (Peg3), is an imprinted gene expressed exclusively from the paternal allele that encodes a Kruppel-type zinc finger-containing protein involved in maternal behavior and is abundantly expressed in the VP-MCNs. We report here the robust expression in the VP-MCNs of an RNA, which we designate APeg3 that is transcribed in the antisense direction to the 3′ untranslated region of the Peg3 gene. The APeg3 mRNA is about 1 kb in size, and the full-length sequence of APeg3, as determined by 5′ and 3′ RACE, contains an open reading frame that predicts a protein of 93 amino acids and is predominantly expressed in VP-MCNs. Both Peg3 and APeg3 gene expression in the VP-MCNs increase during systemic hyperosmolality in vivo, demonstrating that both of these genes are osmoregulated.
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