Molecular biology of the IJ gene

The region of the H-2 complex which spans the interval between I-A and I-E from the congenic strains B10.A(3R) and B10.A(5R) has been cloned and sequenced. This interval is less than 3.4 kb, a size that may be too small to encode for a polypep tide larger than 20 kDa. Moreover, T cells which express the I-J determinant do not appear to transcribe this region. These cells do not possess a rearrangement in the I-A or I-E genes either. Clearly, the structural gene for I-J must be elsewhere.

In view of these results, it is difficult to explain the genetic mapping initially reported for the I-J locus. It has been suggested that I-E or I-A genes contribute to the expression of the I-J gene product. Both I-A and I-E transcripts arc undetectable in T cells which express I-J determinants. However, studies with both I-E chimeric and I-E(J transgenic mice show convincing evidence that suggests that the I-E locus contributes to the I-J phenotype. This notion is consistent with related evidence that shows that I-E has a significant impact on the T cell receptor Vh allele repertoire in various mouse strains.

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