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J Mol Biol. 1989 Aug 20;208(4):709-14.

Complement genes C1r and C1s feature an intronless serine protease domain closely related to haptoglobin.

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  • 1Unité d'Immunogénétique, Institut Pasteur, INSERM U276.


The exon-intron structure of the human complement C1s gene displays a striking similarity with that of the gene encoding haptoglobin, a peculiar transport protein distantly related to the serine proteases. While the protease regions of the serine zymogens are typically encoded by multiple exons, the protease domains of C1s and of its genetically linked and functionally interacting homolog C1r are encoded as intronless domains, not unlike a region of haptoglobin, which in fact is devoid of proteolytic activity. The close similarity of the C1s gene with haptoglobin includes the precise conservation of exon-intron junctions and it extends to upstream exons encoding the short repeats typical of several complement components, but found also in other functionally unrelated proteins. Additional evidence of the common ancestry of C1r, C1s and haptoglobin is the presence, within the protease domain, of a set of sequence markers that distinguish these three proteins from all known serine proteases. The finding of vertebrate serine protease genes with an uninterrupted protease-encoding exon supports the definition of a novel evolutionary branch of this gene family and rules out the hypothesis that regards this unusual exon as an irrelevant byproduct of the extravagant functional divergence of haptoglobin.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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