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Immunity. 2001 Sep;15(3):363-74.

Genetic and functional relationships between MHC and NK receptor genes.

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  • 1Immunology Division, Pathology Department, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge CB2 1QP, United Kingdom.


HLA class I and NK receptors are encoded within dense clusters of immune loci. The MHC, at 6p21.3, and the complex containing the KIR loci, at 19q13.4, both feature variation in the number of genes, as well as sequence polymorphism. In addition to T cell receptors, several variable class I-related molecules interact with polymorphic NK receptors. Some of the lectin-related NK receptor genes, at 12p13.1, also have ligands belonging to the extended class I family. The expanding clusters of class I-related sequences and their receptors, some of which evolved recently, reveal further complexity in immune recognition of disease.

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