By presenting antigenic peptides to T lymphocytes, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class molecules play important roles in the human immune system. Knowledge is limited on the evolutionary history of human MHC class I-related molecules. An expressed class gene, MR1, has now been identified on human chromosome 1q25, outside the MHC. In contrast to other known human divergent class genes, MR1 encodes peptide-binding domains similar to those encoded by human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class genes on chromosome 6 and by nonmammalian classical MHC class genes. This gene may thus contribute to understanding the evolution of the MHC.
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