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Eur J Immunol. 1997 Aug;27(8):2080-6.

Molecular characterization of a gene in the rat homologous to human CD94.

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Department of Anatomy, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, Norway.


Three classes of major histocompatibility (MHC) class I binding receptors on natural killer (NK) cells have so far been described: CD94/NKG2 heterodimeric receptors and killer cell inhibitory receptors in the human, and Ly-49 homodimers in rodents. CD94, NKG2 and Ly-49 belong to the C-type lectin superfamily. As yet, CD94 and NKG2 molecules have not been detected in rodents or Ly-49 in humans. It has therefore been proposed that the two receptors represent functional equivalents in these species. The present study describes the cDNA cloning of a novel rat gene encoding a protein of 179 amino acids, 54.2% identical to human CD94. The single-copy Cd94 gene is localized to the rat NK gene complex (NKC), within 50 kb from Nkrp2, between the Nkrp1 and Ly49 gene clusters. By Northern blot analysis, we showed that rat CD94 is selectively expressed by NK cells and a small subset of T cells, similar to the human orthologue. This expression is strain dependent, with high expression in DA NK cells and low in PVG NK cells. Evidence is presented that this difference is not due to receptor repertoire shaping by MHC-encoded ligands, but is controlled by genetic elements residing within the NKC. The identification of a rat CD94 orthologue suggests that NK cell populations utilize two different C-type lectin receptors for MHC class I molecules in parallel.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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