Chromosome 6: HLA genes and the human immune system, Matt Ridley
Interviewee: Matt Ridley.
Some 220 different genes comprise what is known as the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene complex. These genes are responsible for making proteins that reside on our cell’s surfaces and guard against invasion by foreign matter such as bacteria or viruses. These same genes are suspected of playing a role in certain autoimmune diseases.
(DNAi Location: Genome > Tour > Genome spots > Chromosome 6, immunity genes > A chromosome 6 story)
Chromosome 6 is home to the HLA genes, a set of genes very important in the human immune system. They're involved in the fight against disease. They're also involved in the process of identifying self and non-self. And so they're very variable, very different between different people. They're responsible in fact for the rejection of tissue in organ transplants, for example. Now this kind of diversity both between individuals, and within the individual, enables us to produce many, many different kinds of proteins – perhaps half a million – from only tens of thousands of genes.
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