The BAT1 gene in the MHC encodes an evolutionarily conserved putative nuclear RNA helicase of the DEAD family.
The BAT1 gene has previously been identified about 30 kb upstream from the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) locus and close to a NF kappa b-related gene of the nuclear factor family in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) of human, mouse, and pig. We now show that the BAT1 translation product is the homolog of the rat p47 nuclear protein, the WM6 Drosophila gene product, and probably also Ce08102 of Caenorhabditis elegans, all members of the DEAD protein family of ATP-dependent RNA helicases. This family has more than 40 members, including the eukaryotic translation initiation factor-4A (eIF-4A), the human nuclear protein p68, and the Drosophila oocyte polar granule component vasa. BAT1 spans about 10 kb, is split into 10 exons of varying length, and encodes a protein of 428 amino acids (approximately 48 kDa). Human and pig BAT1 cDNAs display 95.6% identity in the coding region and 80% identity in the 5' and 3' noncoding regions. Several repeat sequences of different types were identified in introns of the porcine BAT1 gene. Three different mRNAs, 4.1, 1.7, and 0.9 kb, respectively, were detected in all tissues analyzed upon hybridization with porcine BAT1 cDNA. Transfection and expression of human BAT1 cDNA after tagging with a heterologous antibody recognition epitope revealed a nuclear localization of the hybrid protein. An MspI RFLP was detected in an SLA class I typed family, confirming the localization of the BAT1 gene in the porcine MHC. BAT1 thus encodes a putative nuclear ATP-dependent RNA helicase and is likely to have an indispensable function.