Murine Ia Genes: Organization, Polymorphism and Heterogeneity

  • Kathleen Donovan
  • Chella S. David
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 225)


The genes of the major histocompatibility complex have been identified and analyzed in many species. Homology between species indicate that these genes evolved millions of years ago, and that they are part of a super-gene family. Studies in man and mouse have clearly identified at least four classes of MHC genes, class I, class II, class III and class IV. The class I genes code for the classical ‘transplantation antigens’ which consist of a 45,000 molecular weight chain associated with a 12,000 dalton β2 microglobulin and are expressed on all nucleated cells. The class I genes can be further subdivided into those involved in the rejection of transplants and which serve as restriction molecules for cytotoxic T lymphocytes (K, D, L in mouse and HLA-A, -B, -C in humans), and a set of class I genes with unknown function (Qa and Tla in mouse). The class II genes code for the classical ‘Ia antigens’ which consists of two polypeptide chains of 31,000 and 28,000 daltons in a non-covalent association and expressed predominantly on lymphoid cells. These molecules are involved in the presentation of non-self antigens and activation of the T-helper cell. The class III genes code for the classical ‘complement components’, C4, C2 and bf. A new set of genes involved in synthesis of certain enzymes (neuraminidase, 21-hydroxylase), tumor necrosis factor and cytochrome P450 proteins are grouped as the class IV genes. In this paper, we will concentrate primarily on the organization and polymorphism of the class II Ia genes.


Major Histocompatibility Complex Gene Conversion Immune Response Gene Restriction Fragment Analysis Globin Gene Cluster 
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© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathleen Donovan
    • 1
  • Chella S. David
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ImmunologyMayo Clinic and Medical SchoolRochesterUSA

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