The Q genes, specifying Qa antigens and situated in the extended part of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) of the mouse, comprise a subgroup of MHC class I genes whose significance and function are still largely unknown. In screening a cDNA library made from the BALB/c inducer T-cell line Cl.Ly1-T1, we isolated 11 clones representing Q8/9, but none representing Q6 or Q7. Confirmatory evidence is given that the Q8/9 gene originated from fusion of the 5′ region of the Q8 gene with the 3′ region of the Q9 gene at a recombination site or hot spot in the vicinity of intron 4. Contrary to previous impressions that Q8/9 is an inert pseudogene, we find that the Q8/9 gene can be functional and encode a Qa-2,3 antigen. One variety of the 11 Q8/9 clones isolated lacked exon 5, which encodes the transmembrane domain of class I glycoproteins, and thus may account for secretion of a soluble form of Qa-2,3 antigen thought to be released by activated T cells.
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