During a search for novel coding sequences within the human MHC class I region (chromosome 6p21.3), we found an exon (named B30-2) coding for a 166-amino-acid peptide which is very similar to the C-terminal domain of several coding sequences: human 52-kD Sjögren's syndrome nuclear antigen A/Ro (SS-A/Ro) and ret finger protein (RFP), Xenopus nuclear factor 7 (XNF7), and bovine butyrophilin. The first three of these proteins share similarities over the whole length of the molecule whereas butyrophilin is similar in the C-terminal domain. The N-terminal domain of butyrophilin is similar to rat myelin/oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG) and chicken B blood group system (B-G) protein. These domains are components of a new subfamily of the immunoglobulin superfamily (IgSF). Butyrophilin is thus a mosaic protein composed of the MOG/B-G Ig-like domain and the C-terminal domain of 52-kD SS-A/Ro, RFP, and XNF7 (1330-2-like domain). Moreover, in situ hybridization shows that RFP, butyrophilin, and MOG map to the human chromosome 6p2l.3-6p22 region and are thus close to the MHC class I genes. It is therefore possible that the butyrophilin gene is the product of an exon shuffling event which occurred between ancestors of the RFP and MOG genes. To our knowledge, this is the first example of the colocalization of a chimeric gene and its putative progenitors. Finally, regulatory protein T-lymphocyte 1 (Rpt-1) shares similarities with the N-terminal halves of RFP, 52-kD SS-A/Ro, and XNF7, but not with the B30-2-like domain. We show that the ancestral Rpt-l gene evolved by overprinting.
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