To detect novel molecules involved in immune functions, a subtracted cDNA library between closely related murine lymphoid cells was prepared using improved technology. Differential screening of this library yielded several clones with a very restricted tissue specificity, including one that we named CTLA-8. CTLA-8 transcripts could be detected only in T cell hybridoma clones related to the one used to prepare the library. Southern blots showed that the CTLA-8 gene was single copy in mice, rats, and humans. By radioactive in situ hybridization, the CTLA-8 gene was mapped at a single site on mouse chromosome 1A and human chromosome 2q31, in a known interspecific syntenic region. The CTLA-8 cDNA sequence indicated the presence, in the 3'-untranslated region of the mRNA, of AU-rich repeats previously found in the mRNA of various cytokines, growth factors, and oncogenes. The CTLA-8 cDNA contained an open reading frame encoding a putative protein of 150 amino acids. This protein was 57% homologous to the putative protein encoded by the ORF13 gene of herpesvirus Saimiri, a T lymphotropic virus. These findings are discussed in the context of other genes of this herpesvirus homologous to known immunologically active molecules. More generally, CTLA-8 may belong to the growing set of virus-captured functionally important cellular genes related to the immune system or to cell death and cell survival.

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