H2 Class Ii

Gail A Bishop, Departments of Microbiology and Internal Medicine, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA

The class II molecules encoded by the mouse major histocompatibility complex, H2, have as their predominant role, the binding and presentation of antigenic peptides for recognition by the antigen receptor complex of the T iymphocyte. They thus play a crucial role in self-nonself discrimination by the immune system. The development of recombinant inbred strains of mice by George Snell and others allowed the genetic mapping of class II genes, as well as many subsequent experiments performed by a large number of laboratories, which have revealed how class II molecules function to regulate immune responses. H2 class II molecules have now been shown to play critical roles in antigen presentation, which in turn affects both the activation of mature T lymphocytes as well as T cell development and selection. Studies of class II knockout mice have revealed a variety of defects in the immune response which result from a lack of cell surface class II molecules. Although less well studied, class II molecules have also been suggested as playing a role in signal transduction to cells which express them.

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