In most mouse strains, expression of a gene encoding sex-limited protein (Slp), an isotype of the fourth component of complement (C4), is induced by testosterone, or the gene is not expressed at all; however, in some wild-derived strains carrying H-2w7, H-2w16, or H-2w19 haplotype, Slp is expressed constitutively in the same way as C4. To examine the structural basis for the testosterone-independent expression of Slp, 41 overlapping clones together encoding the S region were isolated from C3H.W7 mouse (H-2w7) cosmid library. Five C4-related genes each spanning approximately 16 kb were identified among the cluster of cosmid clones and were isolated for structural study. One of the genes (C4w7) hybridized with the C4-specific oligonucleotide probe but not with the Slp-specific oligonucleotide probe, whereas the other genes (Slpw7a, Slpw7b, Slpw7c, and Slpw7d) hybridized only with the Slp-specific probe. Restriction mapping of these genes and sequencing of the selected regions of 5'-flanking regions of the genes were performed, and the results were compared with the data obtained with the C4 and Slp genes of FM (H-2d) and B10.BR (H-2k). These studies showed that three of the C4-related genes of C3H.W7 (Slpw7b, Slpw7c, and Slpw7d) are C4-Slp recombinant genes comprising a 5'-region derived from C4 gene and a 3'-region derived from Slp gene. It is suggested that 5'-flanking region derived from C4 in these C4-Slp recombinant genes accounts for testosterone-independent expression of Slp in C3H.W7 mouse.

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