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Trends Immunol. 2006 Sep;27(9):413-20. Epub 2006 Jul 21.

A structural perspective on MHC class Ib molecules in adaptive immunity.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, 3010, Australia.


The highly polymorphic MHC class Ia molecules have a central role in adaptive immunity. By contrast, the closely related MHC class Ib molecules, which show limited polymorphism, are best known for regulating innate immune responses. Nevertheless, a recent area of interest is the emerging role of class Ib molecules in adaptive immunity, particularly in response to tumours and pathogens such as Mycobacteria, Listeria and Salmonella. Here, we review recent findings in this area, highlighting the structure of a T-cell receptor complexed with a cytomegalovirus peptide bound to the class Ib molecule, HLA-E. Collectively, these findings have implications for immunity, transplantation and autoimmunity, and our understanding of the evolution and plasticity of the molecular interactions mediating adaptive immunity.

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