, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 297-307

Allelic variation in HLA-B and HLA-C sequences and the evolution of the HLA-B alleles

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Abstract

Several new HLA-B (B8, B51, Bw62)- and HLA-C (Cw6, Cw7)-specific genes were isolated either as genomic cosmid or cDNA clones to study the diversity of HLA antigens. The allele specificities were identified by sequence analysis in comparison with published HLA-B and -C sequences, by transfection experiments, and Southern and northern blot analysis using oligonucleotide probes. Comparison of the classical HLA-A, -B, and -C sequences reveals that allele-specific substitutions seem to be rare events. HLA-B51 codes only for one allelespecific residue: arginine at position 81 located on the α1 helix, pointing toward the antigen binding site. HLA-B8 contains an acidic substitution in amino acid position 9 on the first central β sheet which might affect antigen binding capacity, perhaps in combination with the rare replacement at position 67 (F) on the ul helix. HLA-B8 shows greatest homology to HLA-Bw42, -Bw41, -B7, and-Bw60 antigens, all of which lack the conserved restriction sites Pst I at position 180 and Sac I at position 131. Both sites associated with amino acid replacements seem to be genetic markers of an evolutionary split of the HLA-B alleles, which is also observed in the leader sequences. HLA-Cw7 shows 98% sequence identity to the JY328 gene. In general, the HLA-C alleles display lower levels of variability in the highly polymorphic regions of the α1 and α2 domains, and have more distinct patterns of locus-specific residues in the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains. Thus we propose a more recent origin for the HLA-C locus.