Two dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of Non-Idet P-40 extracts and of specific Ia immunoprecipitates from [35S]methionine-labeled mouse spleen lymphocytes has revealed that the cell surface expression of some Ia antigens appears to be controlled by two genes. One locus, which maps in the I-A subregion, is probably the structural gene for an Ia polypeptide chain. The second locus, which maps between the I-J and H-2D regions, controls whether this I-A encoded molecule (Ae) remains in the cytoplasm or is modified and expressed on the cell surface. Complementation between these two loci allowing surface expression of Ae can occur in the cis or trans chromosomal position. Both the I-A molecule and a polypeptide chain coded for by a locus in I-E are coprecipitated by anti-I-E antibodies, suggesting that these two chains are associated with each other as a multisubunit complex in the cell. Because the ability to complement I-A for Ae expression is a property only of those strains which synthesize an I-E-encoded protein, it is likely that the I-E product itself is regulating the expression of Ae. These observations suggest several mechanisms by which interaction between two I region loci can generate new cell surface molecules. As a result, they may have important implications for understanding the molecular basis of two gene control of immune responsiveness and immune suppression.

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