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Mamm Genome. 2001 Aug;12(8):582-9.

Genomic structure, functional comparison, and tissue distribution of mouse Cd59a and Cd59b.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, Laboratory for Membrane Transport, 240 Longwood Ave., C1-607, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


CD59 is a crucial complement regulatory protein that inhibits the terminal step of the complement activation cascade by interfering with the binding of C9 to C5b-8, thus preventing the formation of the membrane attack complex (MAC). We recently reported that the mouse genome contains two Cd59 genes, while the human and rat genomes each contain only one Cd59 gene (Qian et al. 2000). Here, we describe the genomic structure, comparative activity, and tissue distribution of these two mouse genes, designated Cd59a and Cd59b. The mouse Cd59 genes encompass a total of 45.6 kb with each gene having four exons. Cd59a spans 19 kb, and Cd59b spans 15 kb, with approximately 11.6 kb of genomic DNA separating the two genes. The overall sequence similarity between Cd59a and Cd59b is approximately 60%. The sequence similarity between exon 2, exon 3, and exon 4 and the respective flanking regions between the two genes is over 85%, but exon 1 and its flanking regions are totally different. Comparative studies of the activity of both genes as inhibitors of MAC formation revealed that Cd59b has a specific activity that is six times higher than that of Cd59a. Using polyclonal antibodies specific to either Cd59a or Cd59b, we showed that Cd59a and Cd59b are both widely expressed in the kidneys, brain, lungs, spleen, and testis, as well as in the blood vessels of most mouse tissues. Interestingly, testicular Cd59a appeared to be expressed exclusively in spermatids, whereas Cd59b was expressed in more mature sperm cells. These results suggest that even though Cd59a and Cd59b are expressed in multiple tissues, they may play some different roles, particularly in reproduction.

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