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J Biol Chem. 1987 Jun 25;262(18):8767-77.

Class II genes of the human major histocompatibility complex. Comparisons of the DQ and DX alpha and beta genes.


The human major histocompatibility complex, HLA, contains the genes of several class II molecules. We present here the molecular maps of the DQ and DX subregions and analyze the sequences of the polymorphic DQ alpha and DQ beta genes as well as the DX alpha and DX beta genes. The DQ alpha and DQ beta genes are oriented in opposite directions, approximately 12 kilobases apart. The DX alpha and DX beta genes are similarly oriented about 8 kilobases. The exon-intron organizations of the DQ alpha and DX alpha genes are analogous to those of other class II alpha genes. Comparison of the DQ alpha gene sequence to three DQ alpha cDNA clones shows that amino acid replacements are predominantly located between residues 45 and 80 in the amino-terminal domain. Analysis of the frequency of silent and replacement substitutions indicates that there is little selection against replacements in DQ alpha first domains. The exons encoding the second domains of DQ alpha and DX alpha are virtually identical, suggesting that a gene conversion event has occurred between these genes. The DX beta gene is very similar to the DQ beta gene but differs in the cytoplasmic portion. The DX beta gene contains a separate exon of 24 nucleotides encoding the core of the cytoplasmic tail. This exon is not expressed in the DQ beta genes due to a nonfunctional splice junction. Comparison of the number of nucleotide substitutions in the DQ beta first and second domain exons suggests that little or no phenotypic selection acts on the first domain whereas the second domain is under strong selection.

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