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October 4, 1995

The Class I and Class II Proteins of the Human Major Histocompatibility Complex

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass (Drs Strominger and Wiley); Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Division of Tumor Virology, Boston, Mass (Dr Strominger); and the Laboratory of Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine, The Children's Hospital, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boston, Mass (Dr Wiley).

JAMA. 1995;274(13):1074-1076. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530130080036

TRANSPLANTATION antigens, now called major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigens or MHC glycoproteins, were discovered by Peter Gorer in the late 1930s. Graft rejection results from their polymorphism. Later, these antigens were found to give rise, after whole blood transfusion or during pregnancy, to alloantibodies that recognize HLA. This discovery led to tissue typing, now widely used in matching donors with recipients of organ grafts. The polymorphism posed the fundamental biological problem of the nature of the selection force that led to its evolution because it could not have been exchange of surgical grafts. A related polymorphism was soon described in immune response genes, and transplantation antigens and immune response genes were mapped to the same genetic region, the MHC on human chromosome 6 or murine chromosome 17. Through the work of many investigators, including our colleagues Peter Doherty, Emil Unanue, and Rolf Zinkernagel, these two classes of molecules, now called

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