Hela MHC type?

David Johnson david.johnson at yale.edu
Mon Jun 17 09:02:23 EST 2002

Ian A. York wrote:

> ... at this point my main 
> question is whether Hela are homozygous at HLA-B, because I want to be 
> able to say that there are 6 HLA molecules in them.  It will become more 
> important later on.
> I'm pretty sure our Hela are not HLA-A3, because they stain negative with 
> GAP-A3 while transfected HLA-A0302 stains positive in them.

I thought our staining results might be of interest:

HeLa stain with the 4D12 antibody, which recognizes a "HLA determinant 
that includes specificities within, but not identical to, the B5 
cross-reactive group" (ATCC)[MS under revision].

They are negative for HLA-A2 and -B8 using antibodies BB7.2 or MA2.1 and 
0201HA or 0402HA (One Lambda), though they can express transfected heavy 
chain genes encoding these molecules [Johnson and Mook-Kanamori J. Biol. 
Chem 275: 16643 (2000)].

> I wonder if the disagreement in typing is because of different methods, 
> problems with the methods, or because various people have different cells 
> they call "HeLa" because of cross-contaimination.
> Ian 

True, different methods as well as the extreme aneuploidy of HeLa 
probably contribute to the disagreement.  The total chromosome count - 
and the numbers of each chromosome - among HeLa cell lines can vary 
tremendously. The old ATCC catalog had great documentation of this but I 
can't find it in their on-line catalog.  With all that, it's amazing how 
uniform the expression of HLA is on the surface of HeLa cells - very 
consistent, essentially gaussian distributions - although that may be a 
consequence of single clones dominating the culture.

Do you want to know whether there are 6 genes or 6 transcripts?  Of 
course, the expression of one or more alleles might have been 
extinguished, so that the genetic typing could yield a (diploid) 
heterozygote but the serological or mRNA typing would yield a homozygote.

Best of luck.

David R. Johnson, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Department of Pathology
454 BCMM, 295 Congress Avenue
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510 USA
Tel.: 203/737-2298, Fax: 203/737-2293

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