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Eur J Immunol. 2005 Jan;35(1):261-72.

The genes and gene organization of the Ly49 region of the rat natural killer cell gene complex.

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Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, N-0317 Oslo, Norway.


We here report the cDNA sequences of 11 new rat Ly49 genes with full and three with incomplete open reading frames. Although obtained from different inbred rat strains, these as well as six previously published cDNA represent non-allelic genes matching different loci in the Brown Norway (BN) rat genome, which is predicted to contain 34 Ly49 loci distributed over the distal part of the NK cell gene complex. Some of the cloned genes appear to be mutated to non-function in the BN genome, which harbors additional genes with full open reading frames, suggesting at least 26 non-allelic functional Ly49 genes in the rat. Of the encoded receptors, 13 are predicted to be inhibitory, eight to be activating, whereas five may be both ('bifunctional'). Phylogenetic analysis bears evidence of a highly dynamic genetic region, in which only the most distally localized Ly49 gene has a clear-cut mouse ortholog. In phylograms, the majority of the genes cluster into three subgroups with the genes mapping together, defining three chromosomal regions that seem to have undergone recent expansions. When comparing the lectin-like domains, the receptors form smaller subgroups, most containing at least one inhibitory and one activating or 'bifunctional' receptor, where close sequence similarities suggest recent homogenization events.

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