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Tissue Antigens. 1992 May;39(5):249-57.

The molecular basis for reactivity of anti-Cw1 and anti-Cw3 alloantisera with HLA-B46 haplotypes.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Stanford University, CA.


HLA haplotypes containing the HLA-B46 allele react with both anti-Cw1 and anti-Cw3 alloantisera, a pattern of reactivity defined as the Cw11 antigen and postulated to involve either a distinctive Cw11 allele or a duplicated HLA-C locus. From serological characterization of CIR cells transfected with B46 cDNA we now demonstrate that the anti-Cw3 reactivity with these haplotypes is solely due to the B46 molecule and not to an HLA-C molecule. Furthermore, isolation and characterization of HLA-C mRNA from cells expressing B46 strongly suggest that anti-Cw1 reactions are directed against the product of a conventional Cw1 allele. The antigenic cross-reactivities of B46 with B62 and Cw3 correlate with its chimaeric primary structure, which is identical to that of B62, except in the alpha 1 helix where it is identical to both Cw3 and Cw1. The structure, distribution and genetic linkage of B46 indicate it is of recent, Asian origin and is the result of a gene conversion, involving Cw1 as the donor gene and B62 as the recipient. These results demonstrate that the Cw11 antigen neither corresponds to a novel HLA-C allele nor a duplicated HLA-C locus, but to a combination of epitopes contributed by linked Cw1 and B46 alleles. The nucleotide sequence we previously and erroneously attributed to a distinct Cw11 allele is now demonstrated to encode Cw8. Isolation of the cDNA clone with this sequence from a library made from a cell homozygous for the B46 haplotype was probably an artefact of contamination.

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