As a consequence of alternative RNA processing events, a single rat gene can generate messenger RNA's (mRNA's) encoding either calcitonin or a neuropeptide referred to as alpha-type calcitonin gene-related peptide (alpha-CGRP). An mRNA product of a related gene has been identified in rat brain and thyroid encoding the protein precursor of a peptide differing from alpha-CGRP by only a single amino acid. The RNA encoding this peptide, which is referred to as beta-CGRP, appears to be the only mature transcript of the beta-CGRP gene. Hybridization histochemistry reveals a similar distribution of alpha- and beta-CGRP mRNA's, but their relative levels of expression vary in different cranial nerve nuclei. Thus beta-CGRP is a new member of a family of related genes with potential functions in regulating the transduction of sensory and motor information.

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