The Major Histocompatibility Complex Genes and their Transcriptional Regulation

  • Sarki A. Abdulkadir
  • Vincenzo Casolaro
  • Lisa S. Schwiebert
  • Zhimin Song
  • Santa Jeremy Ono


The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is a genetic locus found in every mammalian species which contains multiple closely linked genes whose products play a major role in determining the success of allografts. The MHCs of different species vary in size from 2.5 to 4 megabases. The natural functions of the polypeptides encoded within the MHC primarily involve the processing and presentation of antigen to T lymphocytes. In addition, several genes encoding components of the complement cascade are found within the MHC. Due to the clustering of many important genes involved in the immune response into this region, an enormous amount of attention has been focused on the structure/function analysis of the products of this locus as well as the regulation of their expression. In this chapter, we will briefly review the organization of the genes found within the MHCs of man and mouse, and discuss the domain structure of class I and class II polypeptides and how this relates to the intron/exon structures of the genes. The bulk of the attention will be focused on the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms of class I and class II MHC genes. Our intention is not to provide an encyclopedic compendium of all the data concerning the regulation of these genes, but to highlight what are in our opinion the central players and fundamental concepts governing the appropriate tissue-specific and developmental regulation of these genes. We will place particular attention on the molecular basis of diseases resulting from the aberrant regulation of these genes, and propose strategies for the treatment of these diseases based upon the detailed knowledge which has accumulated over the past decade.


Human Leukocyte Antigen Nonclassical Class Bare Lymphocyte Syndrome Human Leukocyte Antigen Complex 
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Copyright information

© R.G. Landes Company 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarki A. Abdulkadir
  • Vincenzo Casolaro
  • Lisa S. Schwiebert
  • Zhimin Song
  • Santa Jeremy Ono

There are no affiliations available

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