In mice, two families of structurally distinct Ia molecules, one designated I-A and the other I-E, have been identified and characterized. The HLA-DR molecules represent one family of human Ia molecules equivalent to the murine I-E molecules on the basis of amino acid sequence homology. We describe the isolation and biochemical characterization of a second family of human Ia molecules, designated HLA-DS for second D-region locus, equivalent to the murine I-A molecules. The human HLA-DS molecules consist of two polypeptide chains, DS alpha (37,000 mol wt) and DS beta (29,000 mol wt), with 73% amino acid sequence identity to the murine I-A molecules. Furthermore, the HLA-DS molecules are closely linked genetically to HLA-DR molecules, a situation analogous to that observed in mice. The similarity in molecular weights of the DR and DS molecules might explain why others have failed to identify the latter in man.

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