The Q4 class I gene has been shown to participate in gene conversion events within the mouse major histocompatibility complex. Its complete genomic nucleotide sequence has been determined. The 5′ half of Q4 resembles H-2 genes more strongly than other Q genes. Its 3′ end, in contrast, is Q-like and contains a translational stop signal in exon 5 which predicts a polypeptide with an incomplete membrane spanning segment. The presence of two inverted B1 repeats suggests that part of the Q4 gene may be mobile within the genome. Gene transfer experiments have shown that the Q4 gene encodes a β2-microglobulin associated polypeptide of Mr 41 000. A similar protein was found in activated mouse spleen cells. The Q4 polypeptide was found to be secreted both by spleen cells and by transfected fibroblasts and was not detectable on the cell surface. Antibody binding and two-dimensional gel electrophoresis indicate that the Q4 molecule is identical to a mouse class I polypeptide, Qb-1, which has been previously described.
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