• L1;
  • cell adhesion molecule;
  • nerve fiber tract;
  • cDNA cloning;
  • anti-fusion protein antibodies


The NILE glycoprotein is a rat neuronal cell adhesion molecule which has been reported to be very similar in structure, function, and distribution to the mouse L1 glycoprotein. Here we report the complete nucleotide sequence of the NILE message (5,208 nucleotides) and the deduced amino acid sequence of the NILE polypeptide (1,257 amino acids). The predicted NILE protein is 96% identical to L1 at the amino acid level, confirming that the two molecules are homologues. The sequence information shows that NILE is a transmembrane molecule with an extensive ectodomain and a much smaller cytoplasmic domain. The extracellular portion of the molecule contains six immunoglobulin C-2 type domains followed by five fibronectin type III repeats. These two structural motifs are characteristic of several other cell adhesion molecules. The cytoplasmic tails of NILE and L1 are identical to each other and distinct from the cytoplasmic regions of all other cell adhesion molecules except Ng-CAM and neuroglian. Several possible sites for phosphorylation are present in the cytoplasmic tail of NILE.

Antisera were produced against two NILE-β-galactosidase fusion proteins containing distinct segments of the NILE polypeptide: the cytoplasmic domain and the segment containing fibronectin type III repeats. Immunoblots with these antisera and Northern blots with a NILE cDNA probe indicate that NILE continues to be expressed in most areas of the mature rat brain. This contradicts previous immunofluorescence data, which suggested that NILE was substantially down-regulated in maturing nerve fiber tracts. This raises the possibility that NILE could be masked in situ by interactions with other cell surface molecules.