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2.  Characterisation of RT1-E2, a multigenic family of highly conserved rat non-classical MHC class I molecules initially identified in cells from immunoprivileged sites 
BMC Immunology  2003;4:7.
Background
So-called "immunoprivileged sites" are tissues or organs where slow allograft rejection correlates with low levels of expression of MHC class I molecules. Whilst classical class I molecules are recognised by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), some MHC class I molecules are called "non-classical" because they exhibit low polymorphism and are not widely expressed. These last years, several studies have shown that these can play different, more specialised roles than their classical counterparts. In the course of efforts to characterise MHC class I expression in rat cells obtained from immunoprivileged sites such as the central nervous system or the placenta, a new family of non-classical MHC class I molecules, which we have named RT1-E2, has been uncovered.
Results
Members of the RT1-E2 family are all highly homologous to one another, and the number of RT1-E2 loci varies from one to four per MHC haplotype among the six rat strains studied so far, with some loci predicted to give rise to soluble molecules. The RT1n MHC haplotype (found in BN rats) carries a single RT1-E2 locus, which lies in the RT1-C/E region of the MHC and displays the typical exon-intron organisation and promoter features seen in other rat MHC class I genes. We present evidence that: i) RT1-E2 molecules can be detected at the surface of transfected mouse L cells and simian COS-7 cells, albeit at low levels; ii) their transport to the cell surface is dependent on a functional TAP transporter. In L cells, their transport is also hindered by protease inhibitors, brefeldin A and monensin.
Conclusions
These findings suggest that RT1-E2 molecules probably associate with ligands of peptidic nature. The high homology between the RT1-E2 molecules isolated from divergent rat MHC haplotypes is particularly striking at the level of their extra-cellular portions. Compared to other class I molecules, this suggests that RT1-E2 molecules may associate with well defined sets of ligands. Several characteristics point to a certain similarity to the mouse H2-Qa2 and human HLA-G molecules.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-4-7
PMCID: PMC183868  PMID: 12837137
3.  Peptide binding characteristics of the non-classical class Ib MHC molecule HLA-E assessed by a recombinant random peptide approach 
BMC Immunology  2001;2:5.
Background
Increasing evidence suggests that the effect of HLA-E on Natural Killer (NK) cell activity can be affected by the nature of the peptides bound to this non-classical, MHC class Ib molecule. However, its reduced cell surface expression, and until recently, the lack of specific monoclonal antibodies hinder studying the peptide-binding specificity HLA-E.
Results
An in vitro refolding system was used to assess binding of recombinant HLA-E to either specific peptides or a nonamer random peptide library. Peptides eluted from HLA-E molecules refolded around the nonamer library were then used to determine a binding motif for HLA-E. Hydrophobic and non-charged amino acids were found to predominate along the peptide motif, with a leucine anchor at P9, but surprisingly there was no methionine preference at P2, as suggested by previous studies.
Conclusions
Compared to the results obtained with rat classical class Ia MHC molecules, RT1-A1c and RT1-Au, HLA-E appears to refold around a random peptide library to reduced but detectable levels, suggesting that this molecule's specificity is tight but probably not as exquisite as has been previously suggested. This, and a previous report that it can associate with synthetic peptides carrying a viral sequence, suggests that HLA-E, similar to its mouse counterpart (Qa-1b), could possibly bind peptides different from MHC class I leader peptides and present them to T lymphocytes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-2-5
PMCID: PMC33820  PMID: 11432755

Results 1-3 (3)