AlkB is an Escherichia coli protein that catalyses the oxidative demethylation of 1-methyladenine and 3-methylcytosine in DNA and RNA. The enzyme activity of AlkB is dependent on a 2-oxoglutarate- and Fe(II)-dependent (2OG-Fe[II]) oxygenase domain. Human AlkB homologues (hABH), hABH1, hABH2 and hABH3, which also possess the 2OG-Fe(II) oxygenase domain, have previously been identified. Recent bioinformatics analysis suggests the existence of an additional five ABH genes in humans. In this study, we identified the hABH4-hABH7 mRNAs and determined their expression in human tissues. Moreover, an hABH2 splice variant lacking the 2OG-Fe(II) oxygenase domain and a new gene, hABH8, were cloned from testis cDNA. hABH8 possesses not only the 2OG-Fe(II) oxygenase domain but both an RNA-binding motif and a methyl-transferase domain. mRNA of the eight hABH molecules was detected in the 16 normal human tissues examined. The sub-cellular localization of EmGFP-hABH8 was restricted to the cytoplasm. EmGFP-hABH1, 3, 4, 6 and 7 were localized in both the cytoplasm and nuclei. Interestingly, the EmGFP-hABH2 splice variant localized in nucleoplasm with a dot-like pattern. In some HeLa cells transfected with EmGFP-hABH5, dot-like fluorescence was also detected in the cytoplasm. These observations provide important information for the future annotation of the hABH family of molecules.
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