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EMBO J. 1984 Jul;3(7):1655-61.

Mutations and selection in the generation of class II histocompatibility antigen polymorphism.


A comparison of seven human DR and DC class II histocompatibility antigen beta-chain amino acid sequences indicates that the allelic variation is of comparable magnitude within the DR and DC beta-chain genes. Silent and replacement nucleotide substitutions in six DR and DC beta-chain sequences, as well as in seven murine class II sequences (three I-A beta and four I-A alpha alleles) were analyzed. The results suggest that the mutation rates are of a comparable magnitude in the nucleotide sequences encoding the first and second external domains of the class II molecules. Nevertheless, the allelic amino acid replacements are predominantly located in the first domains. We conclude that a conservative selective pressure acts on the second domains, whereas in many positions in the first domains replacement substitutions are selectively neutral or maybe even favoured. Thus, the difference between the first and second domains as regards the number of amino acid replacements is mainly due to selection.

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