The B lymphoblastoid cell line clone 13 (a subclone of the mutant cell line P3JHR-1) has been found to express high levels of HLA-DQ; by contrast, HLA-DR and -DP antigens are not expressed and cannot be induced by interferon gamma. Northern blot analysis using gene-specific probes indicated that the lack of surface expression of the DR and DP antigens is due to a marked decrease in the levels of steady-state RNA for both the alpha and beta chains. Southern blots demonstrated that none of the transcriptionally repressed genes are grossly deleted. Preparations of interspecific transient heterokaryons between clone 13 and the class II antigen-positive murine B cell lymphoma, A20, resulted in reactivation of the DRA gene and surface expression of both the DR and DP molecules. The efficiency of the DRA promoter relative to the DQB promoter is markedly and specifically diminished in clone 13 (P3JHR-1) as compared with the parental cell line, Jijoye, as assayed both by transient expression of appropriate chloramphenicol acetyltransferase gene (CAT) constructs and by in vitro transcription analysis. These data clearly demonstrate the existence of an isotype-specific trans-acting factor, and provide direct evidence that the highly homologous class II genes have distinct regulatory mechanisms.

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