Easing your HLA nomenclature woes..

Keith Bahjat me at keithbahjat.com
Thu Sep 6 13:36:11 EST 2001

Maciej and others,

The term MHC, or major histocompatibility complex, refers to this genetic
region in general terms, regardless of species. This is now typically only
used when referring to the larger intervals of MHC I and MHC II.

For more specific description of individual alleles, in which one would need
to refer to the species of interest as well, the term HLA is used for Human
leukocyte antigen. We also use ChLA for the chimpanzee, DLA for the dog, SLA
for swine, GPLA for guinea pig, RLA for rabbit, and RhLA for Rhesus monkey.
For the sake of completeness, we use H-2 for the mouse and RT1 for the rat,
which do not fit the previously described naming scheme.

So while MHC is a broad term, the HLA nomenclature is used in the human
system to refer to specific genetic intervals within the complex.

Hope that helps



Keith Bahjat, PhD
Applications Engineering Manager
Cytomation, Inc
Fort Collins, CO
(970) 226-2200 x223
keithb at cytomation.com

on 9/5/01 4:56 PM, Maciej Simm at simmmmer at yahoo.com wrote:

> Many thanks to the many of you who took time to answer my question.
> The summary: MHC is not HLA, and class2 is HLA-DR.
> special thanks to Mario for most concise answer and Bruce Koppelman
> from BD for the most elaborate one.
> but there is more...
> I asked a few friends of mine who are in various (reputable) medical
> schools about MHC vs. HLA.  When they took the 6 week course in
> immunology as 2nd year students, they were told humans have MHC class
> I and II. An immuno/microbio board review book I picked up at a
> library also discusses MHC class I and II, in humans. So the
> confusion is wide spread.
> I dont want to start an arguement, but I just thought I'd mention it.
> Maciej
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