Identification of Two Major Histocompatibility Complex Class Ib Genes, Q7 and Q9, as the Ped Gene in the Mouse1

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The Ped (preimplantation embryonic development) gene influences the rate of preimplantation embryonic development and subsequent embryonic survival. The protein product of the Ped gene, the Qa-2 protein, is a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class Ib protein. There are two alleles of the Ped gene, fast (Qa-2 [+]) and slow (Qa-2 [−]). Qa-2 is encoded by four very similar MHC class Ib genes: Q6, Q7, Q8, and Q9. Recent research in our laboratory has shown that the Ped phenotype is potentially encoded by the Q7 and/or Q9 gene because the Q7 and Q9 genes, but not the Q6 or Q8 gene, are expressed during preimplantation mouse embryonic development. In this study we utilized microinjection of transgenes to assess the functional roles of both the Q7 and Q9 genes in control of the rate of preimplantation development. The Q7 gene, the Q9 gene, and a combination of the Q7 and Q9 genes were microinjected into Ped slow zygotes, and the Ped phenotype and cell surface expression of Qa-2 protein were assayed after a 72-h or 96-h incubation period. We found that the microinjected individual Q7 and Q9 genes increased the rate of preimplantation development. Simultaneous injection of the Q7 and Q9 genes did not have a synergistic effect on the Ped phenotype. Microinjection of the Q7 and/or Q9 genes resulted in protein expression in 10–25% of the microinjected embryos. These results show that both the Q7 and Q9 genes encode the mouse Ped phenotype.

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