Structural diversity enables class Ia molecules to present a diverse repertoire of peptides to the T cell receptor. This diversity is thought to be generated by recombinations between class I genes. We have found that two class Ib Q2 alleles exhibit extremely high sequence diversity, even higher than class Ia alleles. Clustered nucleotide differences between Q2b and Q2k suggest that this sequence diversity was generated by microrecombinations between Q2 genes and other class I genes. The relatively high expression of Q2b in the thymus may be significant and perhaps suggests a novel role for a Q2b product in the education and selection of the T cell repertoire.

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