HLA-G molecules: from maternal-fetal tolerance to tissue acceptance

Adv Immunol. 2003;81:199-252. doi: 10.1016/s0065-2776(03)81006-4.


Over the past few years, HLA-G, the non-classical HLA class I molecule, has been the center of investigations that have led to the description of its specific structural and functional properties. Although located in the HLA class I region of chromosome six, the HLA-G gene may be distinguished from other HLA class I genes by its low polymorphism and alternative splicing that generates seven HLA-G proteins, whose tissue-distribution is restricted to normal fetal and adult tissues that display a tolerogeneic function toward both innate and acquired immune cells. We review these points, with special emphasis on the role of HLA-G in human pathologies, such as cancer, viral infection, and inflammatory diseases, as well as in organ transplantation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Fetus / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • HLA Antigens / chemistry
  • HLA Antigens / genetics
  • HLA Antigens / metabolism*
  • HLA-G Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / chemistry
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance*
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Pregnancy
  • Primates / genetics
  • Primates / immunology
  • Transplantation Immunology
  • Virus Diseases / immunology


  • HLA Antigens
  • HLA-G Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I