DNA sequence analysis of NKG2, a family of related cDNA clones encoding type II integral membrane proteins on human natural killer cells.
We have previously described the isolation of a cDNA clone, designated NKG2, that was expressed in all natural killer (NK) cells tested but not in T or B cells. In the present communication, the original isolate, when used to probe a cDNA library prepared from a CD3-NK cell clone, was found to crosshybridize with a family of transcripts that fell into four distinct groups designated NKG2-A, -B, -C, and -D. Full-length cDNA sequences were determined for each group, and the DNA and inferred peptide sequences were analyzed. All four transcripts encode type II membrane proteins of 215-233 amino acids. NKG2-A and -B peptides appear to be alternative splicing products of a single gene. NKG2-C is highly homologous with group A, having 94% homology in the external (COOH-terminal) domain and 56% homology throughout the internal and transmembrane regions. NKG2-D is distantly but significantly related (21% amino acid homology) to the first three groups. Therefore, NKG2-A, -C, and -D appear to be encoded by distinct genes within a family of NK cell-specific genes. Peptide sequence homology searches demonstrate that the NKG2 peptides are members of a supergene family that includes several other type II membrane proteins. This family is characterized by the presence of a C-type animal lectin domain, and several of its members have demonstrated transmembrane signaling capability.