Alternative splicing of class Ib major histocompatibility complex transcripts in vivo leads to the expression of soluble Qa-2 molecules in murine blood

Piotr Tabaczewski, Haval Shirwan, Keith Lewis, Iwona Stroynowski

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Class Ib Qa-2 molecules are expressed in tissue culture cells as ≃40-kDa membrane-bound, glycophosphatidylinositol-linked antigens and as ≃39-kDa soluble polypeptides. Recently, alternative splicing events which delete exon 5 from a portion of Qa-2 transcripts were demonstrated to give rise to truncated secreted Qa-2 molecules in transfected cell lines. To determine whether this mechanism operates in vivo and to find out whether Qa-2 can be detected in soluble form in circulation, murine blood samples were analyzed. Critical to these experiments was preparation of an anti-peptide antiserum against an epitope encoded by a junction of exon 4 and exon 6. We find that supernatants of splenocytes cultured in vitro as well as serum or plasma contain two forms of soluble Qa-2 molecules. One form corresponds to a secreted molecule translated from transcripts from which exon 5 has been deleted; the other is derived from membrane-bound antigens or their precursors. The levels of both soluble forms of Qa-2 are inducible upon stimulation of the immune system, suggesting an immunoregulatory role for these molecules or for the mechanism leading to the reduction of cell- associated Qa-2 antigens in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1883-1887
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 1994


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