HLA-G is a nonclassical major histocompatibility complex class I molecule selectively expressed on cytotrophoblasts at the fetal-maternal interface, where it plays a role in materno-fetal tolerance. In contrast to classical HLA-A, -B and -C class I molecules, HLA-G is characterized by (i) a tissue-restricted distribution, (ii) a limited polymorphism and (iii) a transcription of spliced messenger RNAs encoding for at least four membrane-bound and two soluble HLA-G isoforms. Extensive studies over the past few years have identified HLA-G as a molecule involved in immune tolerance. In this review, attempts were made to summarize the current state of knowledge of the effects of HLA-G on both natural killer and T cell functions and their implications in materno-fetal tolerance and tumor immunosurveillance.
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