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Nature. 1985 Nov 21-27;318(6043):291-3.

A trans-acting class II regulatory gene unlinked to the MHC controls expression of HLA class II genes.


Class II (or Ia) antigens are highly polymorphic surface molecules which are essential for the cellular interactions involved in the immune response. In man, these antigens are encoded by a complex multigene family which is located in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) and which comprises up to 12 distinct alpha- and beta-chain genes, coding for the HLA-DR, -DQ and -DP antigens. One form of congenital severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) in man, which is generally lethal, is characterized by an absence of HLA-DR histocompatibility antigens on peripheral blood lymphocytes (HLA class II-deficient SCID). In these patients, as reported here, we have observed an absence of messenger RNA for the alpha- and beta-chains of HLA-DR, -DQ and -DP, indicating a global defect in the expression of all class II genes. Moreover, the lack of expression of HLA class II mRNAs could not be corrected by gamma-interferon, an inducer of class II gene expression in normal cells. Family studies have established that the genetic defect does not segregate with the MHC. We conclude, therefore, that the expression of the entire family of class II genes is normally controlled by a trans-acting class II regulatory gene which is unlinked to the MHC and which is affected in the patients. This gene controls a function or a product necessary for the action of gamma-interferon on class II genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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