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Nucleic Acids Res. 1990 Nov 11;18(21):6369-76.

Two distinct immunoglobulin heavy chain isotypes in a primitive, cartilaginous fish, Raja erinacea.

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  • 1Tampa Bay Research Institute, St Petersburg, FL 33716.


Immunoglobulin heavy chain genes in Raja erinacea (little skate) are organized in clusters consisting of VH, DH, JH segments and CH exons (1). An immunoglobulin heavy chain mu-like isotype that exhibits 61-91% nucleotide sequence identity in coding segments to the Heterodontus francisci (horned shark) mu-type immunoglobulin is described. The overall length of the mu-type clusters is approximately 16 kb; transmembrane exons (TM1 and TM2) are located 3 to CH exon 4 (CH4). In three of four TM-containing genomic clones, a significant deletion is present in TM1. A second isotype of Raja immunoglobulin heavy chain genes has been detected by screening a spleen cDNA library with homologous Raja VH- and CH1-specific probes complementing the respective regions of the mu-like isotype. Weak hybridization with VH-specific probes and no discernable hybridization with C mu-specific probes were considered presumptive evidence for a second immunoglobulin isotype that nominally is designated as X-type. The Vx region of the X-type cDNA is approximately 60% identical at the nucleotide (nt) level to other Raja VH segments and thus represents a second VH family. Putative Dx and Jx sequences also have been identified. The constant region of the X-type immunoglobulin heavy chain gene consists of two characteristic immunoglobulin domains and a cysteine-rich carboxy terminal segment that are only partially homologous with the mu-like isotype. Genomic Southern blotting indicates that the V and C segments of both immunoglobulin heavy chain isotypes are encoded by complex multigene families. Vx- and different Cx-specific probes hybridize to different length transcripts in northern blot analyses of Raja spleen RNA suggesting that the regulation of expression of the X-type genes may involve differential RNA processing.

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