Decay accelerating factor (DAF) is a glycophospholipid-anchored membrane protein that is part of the regulators of complement activation (RCA) gene family located on human chromosome 1, band q32. These proteins, beginning at their amino terminus, consist largely of multiple copies of an approximately 60 amino acid short consensus repeat (SCR). A DAF cDNA clone was used to identify overlapping bacteriophage genomic clones. The human DAF gene spans approximately 40 kb and consists of 11 exons. The length of these exons and introns varies considerably, with the exons ranging from 21 to 956 bp and the introns ranging from approximately 0.5 to 19.8 kb. SCR I, II, and IV are all encoded by single exons; however, SCR III is encoded by two separate exons, with the splice junction occurring after the second nucleotide of the codon for the glycine residue at position 34 of the consensus sequence. This feature has also been found in CR1, CR2, membrane cofactor protein, and murine factor H. Following the SCR in DAF is a 76 amino acid serine/threonine-rich domain encoded on three separate exons. Exon 10 encodes the Alu family sequence that has been found as an insert in a minor class of DAF cDNA, thus indicating that this mRNA arises by standard alternative splicing. The last DAF exon, which comes after the largest intron of 19.8 kb, encodes the hydrophobic carboxy terminus and the 3'UT region. The nature of the signal that directs posttranslational attachment of a glycophospholipid anchor to DAF is not known, but that signal is apparently spread over three exons and greater than 20 kb. An analysis of the DAF gene provides additional evidence for the common evolutionary heritage of the RCA gene family. The exon/intron structure of this gene will facilitate experiments aimed at understanding the functions of the various domains of DAF.

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