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The gene encoding the carcinoma-associated antigen defined by the monoclonal antibody GA733 is a member of a family of at least two type I membrane proteins. This study describes the mechanism of evolution of the GA733-1 and GA733-2 genes. A full-length cDNA clone for GA733-1 was obtained by screening a human placental library with a genomic DNA probe. Comparative analysis of the cDNA sequence with the previously determined genomic sequence confirmed that GA733-1 is an intronless gene. The GA733-2 gene encoding the monoclonal antibody-defined antigen was molecularly cloned with a cDNA probe and partially sequenced. Comparison of GA733-2 gene sequences with the previously established cDNA sequence revealed that this gene consists of nine exons. The putative promoter regions of the GA733-1 and GA733-2 genes are unrelated. These findings suggest that the GA733-1 gene was formed by the retroposition of the GA733-2 gene via an mRNA intermediate. Prior to retroposition, the GA733-2 gene had been affected by exon shuffling. Analysis of GA733-2 exons revealed that many delineate structural motifs. The GA733-1 retroposon was localized either to chromosome region 1p32-1p31 or to 1p13-1q12, and the GA733-2 founder gene was localized to chromosome 4q.