We have determined the nucleotide sequence of Q8/9d gene of the BALB/c strain of mice, isolated from Steinmetz's cosmid library. As for all other class I genes of the Qa region, the Q8/9d gene spans approximately 4.7 kilobases (kb) and consists of seven exons and six introns. A seven bases deletion in exon 3 results in the occurrence of an early termination codon. Thus the Q8/9d gene cannot encode a normal class I protein. Comparison of the nucleotide sequence of the Q8/9d gene with that of other class I MHC genes revealed a stronger homology to Q7 and Q8 than to K, D, L, TL, and other Q genes. However, the gene cannot originate from a mere fusion between Q8 and Q9 genes except if the ancestor to putative Q8d was markedly different from the present Q8b gene. Using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology, we have confirmed the presence of a Q8/9 gene, identical to that present in cosmid 46.1, in the genome of BALB/cJ (Qa-2low). Finally, it has been reported that cDNA clone 94-A, which codes for a Qa-2 antigen, could derive from a transcript of gene Q8/9d. The nucleotide sequences of gene Q8/9d and of cDNA clone 94-A are distinctly different in their 5′ regions, in spite of an almost perfect matching in their 3′ regions. Thus, clone 94-A cannot derive from an mRNA transcribed from the Q8/9d gene.
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