The non-MHC-encoded CD1 family has recently emerged as a novel antigen-presenting system that is distinct from MHC class I and class II molecules. In the present study, we determined the genomic structure of that rat CD1, and compared with those of other previously reported CD1 genes. Rat CD1 was extremely similar to mouse CD1 genes, especially to CD1D1. It is of interest that a tyrosine-based motif for endosomal localization, identified in the human CD1b cytoplasmic tail, was conserved in all CD1 molecules except for CD1a, that was encoded by a single short exon. Comparison of the overall exon-intron organization of CD1 genes revealed that the length of the introns was also characteristic to each of the two classes of CD1 genes; classic (CD1A, CD1B, CD1C and CD1E), and CD1D, which have been categorized by comparison of coding regions. These findings support a hypothesis that the two classes have different evolutionary histories. In contrast to the absence of the classic CD1 genes in rats and mice, the entire region of nonpolymorphic CD1D gene has been conserved through mammalian evolution. Furthermore, we determined chromosomal localization of rat CD1 gene using the fluorescence in situ hybridization method with several probes derived from genomic rat CD1 clones. Similar to human and mouse CD1, rat CD1 mapped outside the MHC loci despite the structural and functional resemblance to MHC. Conserved syntheny of chromosomal segments of RNO2 and MMU3 is implied.
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