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The complete nucleotide sequence of an HLA-DP beta 1 gene and part of the adjacent DP alpha 1 gene, up to and including the signal sequence exon, were determined. The sequence of the DP beta 1 gene identified it as the DPw4 allele. The six exons of the DP beta 1 gene spanned over 11,000 bp of sequence. The arrangement of the gene was broadly analogous to genes of other class II beta chains. The beta 1 exon was flanked by introns of over 4 kb. Comparisons with published sequences of cDNA clones indicated that an alternative splice junction, at the 3' end of the gene, is used in at least one allele. Variation in choice of splice junction indicates an additional mechanism for allelic variation in class II genes. The sequence also indicated that the DP beta 1 and DP alpha 1 genes are separated by only 2 kb at their 5' ends. Comparison of the 5' ends of the DP alpha 1 and beta 1 genes with other class II sequences, including the DZ alpha gene, showed conservation of several blocks of sequences thought to be involved in control of expression. Some areas of the introns were partially conserved in the DQ beta gene, and several other intron sequences were homologous to sequences found in other unrelated genes.