The crystal structure of the nonclassical human class lb MHC molecule HLA-E has been determined in complex with a prototypic ligand, the nonamer peptide (VMAPRTVLL), derived from the highly conserved residues 3-11 of the human MHC class la leader sequence. The mode of peptide binding retains some of the standard features observed in MHC class la complexes, but novel features imply that HLA-E has evolved to mediate specific binding to a tightly defined set of almost identical hydrophobic peptides from the highly conserved class l leader sequences. These molecular adaptations make HLA-E a rigorous checkpoint at the cell surface reporting on the integrity of the antigen processing pathway to CD94/NKG2 receptor-bearing natural killer cells.
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 1998|