Unusual intron in the immunoglobulin domain of the newly isolated murine CD4 (L3T4) gene

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Abstract

The T-cell surface glycoprotein, CD4, is expressed predominantly on helper T cells and is thought to play a major role in cell–cell interactions1–5. Monoclonal antibodies against CD4 have been shown to block numerous T-cell functions1,3,4; moreover, recent results suggest that the CD4 molecule may be involved in transmembrane signal transduction6,7. The human CD4 glycoprotein has also been shown to form at least part of the receptor for the AIDS virus, HIV-1 (refs 8–10). Elucidation of the functions of CD4 will be facilitated by the ability to manipulate the protein by genetic means. Because the mouse system is well suited for a variety of functional studies, we have isolated, sequenced and expressed cDNA clones encoding the murine CD4 (L3T4) glycoprotein. Comparison of the mouse and human CD4 sequences reveals striking evolutionary conservation of the cytoplasmic domain, suggesting that this region is essential for CD4 function. In addition, both the human and mouse CD4 gene contain a large intron in the coding region of the V-like domain. As no other members of the immunoglobulin gene superf amily have been shown to contain similarly placed introns, this finding may have important implications regarding the evolution of this gene family in particular and of introns in general.

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