Regulation of MHC class I and II gene transcription: differences and similarities
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Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules serve as peptide receptors. These peptides are derived from processed cellular or extra-cellular antigens. The MHC gene complex encodes two major classes of molecules, MHC class I and class II, whose function is to present peptides to CD8+ (cytotoxic) and CD4+ (helper) T cells, respectively. The genes encoding both classes of MHC molecules seem to originate from a common ancestral gene. One of the hallmarks of the MHC is its extensive polymorphism which displays locus and allele-specific characteristics among the various MHC class I and class II genes. Because of its central role in immunosurveillance and in various disease states, the MHC is one of the best studied genetic systems. This review addresses several aspects of MHC class I and class II gene regulation in human and in particular, the contribution to the constitutive and cytokine-induced expression of MHC class I and II genes of MHC class-specific regulatory elements and regulatory elements which apparently are shared by the promoters of MHC class I and class II genes.
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