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Immunogenetics. 2008 Dec;60(12):759-65. doi: 10.1007/s00251-008-0330-2. Epub 2008 Sep 3.

MHC motif viewer.

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Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark.


In vertebrates, the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) presents peptides to the immune system. In humans, MHCs are called human leukocyte antigens (HLAs), and some of the loci encoding them are the most polymorphic in the human genome. Different MHC molecules present different subsets of peptides, and knowledge of their binding specificities is important for understanding the differences in the immune response between individuals. Knowledge of motifs may be used to identify epitopes, to understand the MHC restriction of epitopes, and to compare the specificities of different MHC molecules. Algorithms that predict which peptides MHC molecules bind have recently been developed and cover many different alleles, but the utility of these algorithms is hampered by the lack of tools for browsing and comparing the specificity of these molecules. We have, therefore, developed a web server, MHC motif viewer, that allows the display of the likely binding motif for all human class I proteins of the loci HLA A, B, C, and E and for MHC class I molecules from chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta), and mouse (Mus musculus). Furthermore, it covers all HLA-DR protein sequences. A special viewing feature, MHC fight, allows for display of the specificity of two different MHC molecules side by side. We show how the web server can be used to discover and display surprising similarities as well as differences between MHC molecules within and between different species. The MHC motif viewer is available at .

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