Murine blood group antigen H-2.7 is encoded by a locus mapping in the vicinity of the S locus which codes for the Ss antigen carried by the fourth component of the complement pathway (C4). Normal mouse serum of H-2.7-positive strains contains a substance which inhibits anti-H-2.7 hemagglutination. This substance cannot be removed by passage of the serum through an anti-Ss immunoabsorbent column indicating that the Ss and H-2.7 antigens are present on separate molecules or molecular fragments in the serum. In contrast, fresh plasma either does not contain the H-2.7-bearing substance at all or it contains it at a far lower concentration than normal serum, although it has a normal level of the Ss-antigen-bearing substance. However, the H-2.7-positive substance appears when the plasma is allowed to stand for several hours, or when it is dialyzed and treated subsequently in a manner favoring spontaneous degradation of complement components. Removal of the Ss substance from the fresh plasma prevents the appearance of the H-2.7 antigen at any time thereafter. These findings indicate that the Ss and H-2.7 antigens are carried by the same molecule or molecular complex. The intact molecule expresses only the Ss antigen; the H-2.7 antigen is either hidden or masked so that it is inaccessible or poorly accessible to H-2.7 antibodies. Degradation of these molecules results in the generation of two fragments, a large fragment carrying the Ss antigen and a smaller H-2.7-positive fragment. The data are consistent with the interpretation that the H-2.7 antigen is encoded by the S locus, and that it is carried by that portion of the C4 molecule split off during complement activation.
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