Structure and expression of MHC class Ib genes of the central M region in rat and mouse: M4, M5, and M6

Doris Lambracht-Washington, Yuki F. Moore, Kurt Wonigeit, Kirsten Fischer Lindahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The M region at the telomeric end of the murine major histocompatibility complex (MHC) contains class I genes that are highly conserved in rat and mouse. We have sequenced a cosmid clone of the LEW rat strain (RT1l haplotype) containing three class I genes, RT1.M6-1, RT1.M4, and RT1.M5. The sequences of allelic genes of the BN strain (RT1n haplotype) were obtained either from cDNAs or genomic clones. For the coding parts of the genes few differences were found between the two RT1 haplotypes. In LEW, however, only RT1.M5 and RT1.M6 have open reading frames; whereas in BN all three genes were intact. In line with the findings in BN, transcription was found for all three rat genes in several tissues from strain Sprague Dawley. Protein expression in transfectants could be demonstrated for RT1.M6-1 using the monoclonal antibody OX18. By sequencing of transcripts obtained by RT-PCR, a second, transcribed M6 gene, RT1.M6-2, was discovered, which maps next to RT1.M6-1 outside of the region covered by the cosmid. In addition, alternatively spliced forms for RT1.M5 and RT1.M6 were detected. Of the orthologous mouse genes, H2-M4, H2-M5, and H2-M6, only H2-M5 has an open reading frame. Other important differences between the corresponding parts of the M region of the two species are insertion of long LINE repeats, duplication of RT1.M6, and the inversion of RT1.M5 in the rat. This demonstrates substantial evolutionary dynamics in this region despite conservation of the class I gene sequences themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-145
Number of pages15
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 2008


  • Alternative splicing
  • Brain expression
  • Gene duplication
  • MHC class I genes
  • Microsatellite D20Rat21
  • Pseudogenes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Genetics


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