Definitions for Human leukocyte antigen

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Random House Webster's College Dictionary

hu′man leu′kocyte an`tigen(n.)

  1. Category:

    Ref: See HLA .

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  1. Human leukocyte antigen

    The human leukocyte antigen system is the name of the major histocompatibility complex in humans. The super locus contains a large number of genes related to immune system function in humans. This group of genes resides on chromosome 6, and encodes cell-surface antigen-presenting proteins and has many other functions. The HLA genes are the human versions of the MHC genes that are found in most vertebrates. The proteins encoded by certain genes are also known as antigens, as a result of their historic discovery as factors in organ transplants. The major HLA antigens are essential elements for immune function. Different classes have different functions: HLAs corresponding to MHC class I present peptides from inside the cell. These peptides are produced from digested proteins that are broken down in the proteasomes. In general, these particular peptides are small polymers, about 9 amino acids in length. Foreign antigens attract killer T-cells that destroy cells. HLAs corresponding to MHC class II present antigens from outside of the cell to T-lymphocytes. These particular antigens stimulate the multiplication of T-helper cells, which in turn stimulate antibody-producing B-cells to produce antibodies to that specific antigen. Self-antigens are suppressed by suppressor T-cells.

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