The neighboring human complement C4 and steroid 21-hydroxylase(CYP21) genes are flanked by novel genes RP and Gene X. RP-C4-CYP21-Gene X form a modular structure termed RCCX in the major histocompatability complex(MHC). There is a variation in the number and structure of RCCX modules in the population. Deficiencies of the functional genes in RCCX may lead to genetic and/or autoimmune defects. Three groups of mobile genetic elements have been found by us at the RCCX modules: an endogenous retrovirus HERV-K(C4) which mediates the size variation of C4 genes, eight Alu elements, and a novel group of composite repetitive DN forming a discrete genetic unit, the SVA element, in the RP1 gene. It is proposed here to fully characterize the RCCX modular structures in the population, to analyze the 180 Kb DNA sequence spanning more than ten human genes by mapping the disease markers and mutations. This research will be extended to the 38 members of HERV-K(C4), and the composite SVA in the human genome. The common theme is to elucidate the mechanisms leading to genetic instabilities of the MHC. Determination of DNA sequences, analysis of sequences through multiple sequence alignments and database searching are the most important component of this research. The facilities and software of PSC enable us to analyze the complex structures of RCCX and large amounts of sequence information effectively.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
Biotechnology Resource Grants (P41)
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Mellon Pitts Corporation (Mpc Corp)
United States
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