In addition to polymorphism of the peptide-binding site, the density of the MHC class II molecules expressed on the membrane of APC could well play a significant role in the MHC-peptide-TCR interaction during the immune response. We therefore investigated the regulation of the expression of the HLA-DRB genes at the transcriptional level. A competitive PCR approach was used to estimate the quantities of the HLA-DRB transcripts in peripheral blood B cells. When comparing the amounts of steady-state mRNAs among the different DRB1 alleles, the DRB1 transcripts in the DR52 haplotype group were found to be 2.5 to 3.5 times more abundant than the DRB1*01 transcripts, 1.5 to 2 times more abundant than the DRB1*04 transcripts, and 7 times more abundant than the DRB1*08 transcripts. Within the DR52 haplotype group, the DRB1 and DRB3 transcripts had the same abundance. Taken together, these results are in good agreement with the previously reported transcriptional activities of the DRB promoters except for DRB1*04, thus suggesting a differential post-transcriptional regulation among the DRB1 mRNAs.

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