Nonclassical MHC class II molecules

Annu Rev Immunol. 2000;18:113-42. doi: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.18.1.113.


Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules are cell surface proteins that present peptides to CD4(+) T cells. In addition to these wellcharacterized molecules, two other class II-like proteins are produced from the class II region of the MHC, HLA-DM (DM) and HLA-DO (DO) (called H2-M, or H2-DM and H2-O in the mouse). The function of DM is well established; it promotes peptide loading of class II molecules in the endosomal/lysosomal system by catalyzing the release of CLIP peptides (derived from the class II-associated invariant chain) in exchange for more stably binding peptides. While DM is present in all class II- expressing antigen presenting cells, DO is expressed mainly in B cells. In this cell type the majority of DM molecules are not present as free heterodimers but are instead associated with DO in tight heterotetrameric complexes. The association with DM is essential for the intracellular transport of DO, and the two molecules remain associated in the endosomal system. DO can clearly modify the peptide exchange activity of DM both in vitro and in vivo, but the physiological relevance of this interaction is still only partly understood.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • HLA-D Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-D Antigens / immunology*
  • HLA-D Antigens / metabolism
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Subcellular Fractions
  • Tissue Distribution


  • H-2O antigen
  • H2-M antigens
  • HLA-D Antigens
  • HLA-DM antigens
  • HLA-DO antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II