The human hepatic asialoglycoprotein receptor comprises two homologous polypeptides designated H1 and H2. Two distinct complementary DNA clones encoding these receptor subunits have been previously isolated from the human hepatoblastoma cell line HepG2. We discovered that multiple variants of H2 transcripts exist both in HepG2 cells and in the normal human liver that, at least in part, appear to be the result of alternative splicing events. We have found that (a) the complementary DNA clone for H2 previously isolated from HepG2 cells, characterized by a 57‐nucleotide insertion within the 5′ end of the complementary DNA that is absent from H1, represented only one third of H2‐related sequences in an unamplified normal human liver complementary DNA library and less than 10% of H2 clones in HepG2 cells; (b) the predominant message for H2 expressed in the liver and HepG2 cells, designated L‐H2, appeared to represent the fully processed product of the gene encoding both L‐H2 and H2; and (c) a variant H2 transcript existed in HepG2 cells, designated H2′, that contained a novel, 5′ 88‐bp nucleotide insertion. Poly(A+) RNA analysis of the normal liver and HepG2 cells by complementary RNA hybridization and ribonuclease protection corroborated the observations made during the screening of complementary DNA libraries regarding the abundance of the various messages. A striking incongruity was found between the levels of messenger RNA containing the H2‐specific 57‐nucleotide sequence and the levels of polypeptide expressed in the liver and HepG2 cells as recognized by antiserum specifically raised against this sequence. (Hepatology 1992;15:395–402).
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