Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Polymorphic as well as HLA-F and -G genes are repressed in the human cell line JAR, derived from a tumor of trophoblast origin. By contrast, the HLA-E gene as well as the non-HLA novel coding-sequence, R1, located 5′ to HLA-E, both remain transcriptionally active. We first demonstrated the role of DNA methylation in the repression of class I genes (except HLA-E) in JAR by the use of the 5-Azacytidine demethylating agent. Following treatment, JAR clones reexpressed polymorphic class I transcripts and cell surface α chains. Using methylation-sensitive rare cutter enzymes on JAR genomic DNA, followed by classical or pulse field gel electrophesis and hybridization with HLA locus-specific probes, we found methylated CpG islands in the 5′ region of all class I genes, except for HLA-E. These results, establishing an inverse relationship between states of methylation and transcriptional activity within the MHC class I chromosomal region in JAR, and the observations that the HLA-E and R1 genes were ubiquitously expressed, suggest that the HLA-E chromosomal domain might have functional importance including the presence of housekeeping genes.
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