We have produced a series of in vitro serologically selected cell lines that express mutant I-Ak molecules. In this report we describe the DNA sequence analysis of the Ak beta gene of four cell lines that express serologically altered Ak beta polypeptides in association with wild-type Ak alpha polypeptides. Each of the major serologic epitopes on the Ak beta polypeptide has been altered in one or more of the four mutants. In addition, the four mutants exhibit a broad spectrum of functional defects when used to stimulate a panel of T hybridomas of various specificities. The DNA sequence analysis revealed that each mutant had sustained a single nucleotide substitution resulting in a single amino acid substitution. All four independent substitutions occurred within or near the third of the four variable regions defined in the beta 1 domain of the A beta polypeptide by allelic comparisons. These data strongly suggest that the third variable region is the major determinant of alloantigenicity on the Ak beta polypeptide.

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