Recombinant major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II molecules were expressed with extracellular polypeptide domains reorganized to form heavy (H) and light (L) chains (alpha 1-beta 1-beta 2 and alpha 2) analogous to class I. Accurate protein folding and dimerization is demonstrated by the ability of this 3+1-DR1 construct to bind class II-restricted peptides and stimulate CD4+ T cells. Cell surface expression of a functional class II molecule consisting of H and L chains supports the validity of current class II models and affirms the evolutionary relatedness of class I/II. MHC functions that differ between class I/II may be influenced by domain configuration, and the use of domain-shifted constructs will allow examination of this possibility.

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