Rat CD16 is defined here by a family of highly homologous class III Fc gamma receptor isoforms. Northern blot and polymerase chain reaction analysis indicate that multiple rtFc gamma RIII alpha isoforms are expressed by rat NK and macrophages contrasting the expression of a single class III receptor isoform by human and mouse NK and macrophages. Analysis of genomic Southern blots and splice variants identified by polymerase chain reaction suggests the existence of several homologous rat Fc gamma RIII alpha genes organized similar to human and mouse class III receptor genes. All rat Fc gamma RIII alpha isoform protein sequences have conventional transmembrane insertion sequences containing the unique LFAVDTGL motif conserved in all other class III Fc gamma and Fc epsilon RI alpha receptor sequences. A model is proposed for the protein-protein interactions between this sequence and the transmembrane sequences of two heteroprotein subunits, Fc epsilon RI gamma and CD3 zeta, known to interact with human and mouse class III receptors. Rat NK, monocytes, and neutrophils were all found to express transcripts for both of these subunits, whereas rat macrophages express only Fc epsilon RI gamma subunit transcripts. Furthermore, the Fc epsilon RI gamma subunit was found to promote the cell surface expression of rtFc gamma RIII alpha isoforms in transfected COS cells.

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