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Interdomain alignment creates essentially a single, eight-stranded p sheet that appears as a table topped with two parallel helical structures running its length, forming a groove between them (Fig. 8). The residues lining FIG. 8. Tertiary organization of an MHC class I protein. This figure (after Bjorkman et a l . , 1987a) illustrates two views of a class I MHC molecule. A full-length side view (A) shows all three regions (al, a2,and a3) of the class I molecules as well as their relationship to &-microglobulin.

This may reflect the lack of conserved linear sequences in V genes that would facilitate crossing over or correction and a shorter target length. Such factors would presumably also affect the rate of gene conversion and may account somewhat for the difference in conversion rates between K and D class I loci. Therefore, differences in the organization of MHC genes and V gene segments may affect not only the rate, but also the nature and mode of their evolutionary diversification. For both MHC and V gene families, it appears that the overall repertoire of diversity, rather than the individual variant, is generally the selectable phenotype.

The @ strands are shown as flattened arrows. The two long a-helical structures resting on the @-sheetplatform of the a1 and a2 regions and the groove between them are viewed end-on. A view directly above the al/a2 @-sheet platform (B) looks directly into the antigen-presenting groove. , 1987). , 1987b). , 1983). There are two class I1 loci, I-E and I-A, each encoding an a and /3 chain (see Mengle-Gaw and McDevitt, 1985). The class I1 molecules of both loci (isotypes) are coexpressed, but usually only on specialized antigen-presenting cells.

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