Rho H Seong, Institute for Molecular Biology and Genetics and Department of Molecular Biology, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea

Jane R Parnes, Division of Immunology and Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California, USA

(^-Microglobulin (f32M) is a protein of approximately 12 kDa and is found in serum and on the surface of most mammalian cells. It was first isolated from the urine of patients whose renal tubules were damaged by chronic cadmium poisoning. The protein is referred to as (^-microglobulin because of its low molecular weight and its localization in the |32 region of globulins when blood plasma is subject to moving-boundary electrophoresis.

(32M is noncovalently associated with several transmembrane proteins, including the heavy chain of class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins encoded by the mouse H-2 K, D and L and Qa/Tla loci and the human HLA-A, -B, and -C. loci. (32M is also found in noncovalent association with an immunoglobulin G (IgG) receptor (Fc receptor) of neonatal gut cells and with CD1 glycoproteins. |32M is encoded by a single gene on human chromosome 15 and mouse chromosome 2.

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