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J Exp Med. 2003 May 19;197(10):1279-89. Epub 2003 May 12.

A human minor histocompatibility antigen resulting from differential expression due to a gene deletion.

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D3-100, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


Minor histocompatibility antigens (minor H antigens) are targets of graft-versus-host disease and graft-versus-leukemia responses after allogeneic human leukocyte antigen identical hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Only a few human minor H antigens have been molecularly characterized and in all cases, amino acid differences between homologous donor and recipient proteins due to nucleotide polymorphisms in the respective genes were responsible for immunogenicity. Here, we have used cDNA expression cloning to identify a novel human minor H antigen encoded by UGT2B17, an autosomal gene in the multigene UDP-glycosyltransferase 2 family that is selectively expressed in liver, intestine, and antigen-presenting cells. In contrast to previously defined human minor H antigens, UGT2B17 is immunogenic because of differential expression of the protein in donor and recipient cells as a consequence of a homozygous gene deletion in the donor. Deletion of individual members of large gene families is a common form of genetic variation in the population and our results provide the first evidence that differential protein expression as a consequence of gene deletion is a mechanism for generating minor H antigens in humans.

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