The major histocompatibility complex class I allele human leukocyte antigen (HLA) B27 is strongly associated with human spondyloarthropathies. To date, 12 subtypes of HLA-B27 are known and most of them are linked with human spondyloarthropathies in different ethnic populations. Although these subtypes differ from each other by a few amino acids, the have an identical B pocket in the base of the antigen-binding groove. Considering the structure of HLA-B27 subtypes and their peptide binding specificity, it is important to consider their role as antigen-presenting molecules. Many B27-linked diseases begin after an infection with an enterobacteria, suggesting a role for environmental antigens in addition to an HLA-B27 molecule. To delineate the role of infection, studies have been carried out in animal models of reactive arthritidis. More recently, transgenic animal models have been used to understand the handling of environmental antigens by HLA-B27 molecule. This article discusses some of these transgenic and nontransgenic animal models of human diseases.
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