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Tissue Antigens. 1997 Jun;49(6):574-9.

Genomic organization of a human killer cell inhibitory receptor gene.

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Human Immunogenetics Laboratory, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Holborn, London, United Kingdom.


We have cloned a region of human chromosome 19q13.4 which contains multiple killer cell inhibitory receptor (KIR) loci. By random and directed sequence analysis of these KIR-specific clones, we deduced the genomic structure of KIR genes. A locus encoding a member of the NKAT-2 family of KIRs is presented here. The structure of the gene is reminiscent of loci of the Fc receptor gene family, and the two sets of genes may derive from a common ancestor. The KIR gene contains potentially nine exons. The first two exons encode the leader sequence, as in Fc receptor genes. The third exon encodes an untranslated pseudo exon specifying an immunoglobulin domain with an in-frame stop codon. Expressed cDNAs do not contain this exon. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that certain KIR genes may have been derived from the duplication of a primordial three immunoglobulin domain structure with subsequent skipping of one exon to derive genes with two expressed immunoglobulin domains. Variation in numbers of immunoglobulin domains in different KIR genes is facilitated by conservation of splicing frame in respect to the codon triplet for each immunoglobulin domain.

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