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Placenta. 2012 Feb;33 Suppl:S71-80. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2011.11.020. Epub 2011 Dec 15.

Review: Immunogenetics of human placentation.

Author information

1
Department of Structural Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA. peropa@stanford.edu

Abstract

Natural killer (NK) cells are a population of lymphocytes that function in both immune defense and reproduction. Diversifying NK cell phenotype and function are interactions between NK cell receptors and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I ligands. As a consequence of strong and variable selection these ligand-receptor systems are polymorphic, rapidly evolving, and considerably species-specific. Counterparts to the human system of HLA class I ligands and killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) are present only in apes and Old World monkeys. HLA-C, the dominant ligand for human KIR and the only polymorphic HLA class I expressed by trophoblast, is further restricted to humans and great apes. Even then, the human system appears qualitatively different from that of chimpanzees, in that it has evolved a genetic balance between particular groups of receptors and ligands that favor reproductive success and other groups of receptors and ligands that have been correlated with disordered placentation. Human populations that have survived successive episodes of epidemic disease and population bottlenecks maintain a breadth of diversity for KIR and HLA class I, implying that loss of such diversity disfavors long-term survival of a human population.

PMID:
22177321
PMCID:
PMC3677947
DOI:
10.1016/j.placenta.2011.11.020
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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