The major histocompatibility complex class Ib molecule HLA-E at the interface between innate and adaptive immunity

Tissue Antigens. 2008 Nov;72(5):415-24. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0039.2008.01138.x.


The non-classical major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecule human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-E is the least polymorphic of all the MHC class I molecules and acts as a ligand for receptors of both the innate and the adaptive immune systems. The recognition of self-peptides complexed to HLA-E by the CD94-NKG2A receptor expressed by natural killer (NK) cells represents a crucial checkpoint for immune surveillance by NK cells. However, HLA-E can also be recognised by the T-cell receptor expressed by alphabeta CD8 T cells and therefore can play a role in the adaptive immune response to invading pathogens. The recent resolution of HLA-E in complex with both innate and adaptive ligands has provided insight into the dual role of this molecule in immunity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • HLA Antigens / chemistry
  • HLA Antigens / immunology
  • HLA Antigens / metabolism*
  • HLA-E Antigens
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / chemistry
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / immunology
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Active / immunology
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily D / immunology
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily D / metabolism*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs / physiology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / immunology
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell / immunology
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell / metabolism


  • HLA Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • NK Cell Lectin-Like Receptor Subfamily D
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Receptors, Natural Killer Cell