Functions of nonclassical MHC and non-MHC-encoded class I molecules.
Braud VM., Allan DS., McMichael AJ.
Fascinating recent discoveries have focused attention on the nonclassical class I molecules. They can exert their function at most levels of the immune response, being part of both innate and adaptive immune systems. They not only have specialized antigen-presentation functions but also play important immunoregulatory roles: HLA-E regulates natural killer cells by interacting with CD94/NKG2 receptors; the MIC (MHC class I chain related) glycoproteins appear crucial to the activation of gammadelta T cells in the gastrointestinal epithelium; HLA-G may play a role in controlling the immune response to the fetus; and CD1 molecules are important in defense against bacterial infections, as well as in the development and regulation of a subset of NKT cells expressing a highly restricted TCR repertoire; however not all nonclassical class I molecules have an immunological function, as demonstrated by HFE which is implicated in iron metabolism.