HLA-B (major histocompatibility complex, class I, B) is a human gene that provides instructions for making a protein that plays a critical role in the immune system. HLA-B is part of a family of genes called the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) complex. The HLA complex helps the immune system distinguish the body's own proteins from proteins made by foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria.

HLA is the human version of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), a gene family that occurs in many species. Genes in this complex are separated into three basic groups: class I, class II, and class III. In humans, the HLA-B gene and two related genes, HLA-A and HLA-C, are the major genes in MHC class I.

MHC class I genes provide instructions for making proteins that are present on the surface of almost all cells. On the cell surface, these proteins are bound to protein fragments (peptides) that have been exported from within the cell. MHC class I proteins display these peptides to the immune system. If the immune system recognizes the peptides as foreign (such as viral or bacterial peptides), it responds by destroying the infected cell.

The HLA-B gene has many different normal variations, allowing each person's immune system to react to a wide range of foreign invaders. Hundreds of versions (alleles) of HLA-B are known, each of which is given a particular number (such as HLA-B27). Closely related alleles are categorized together; for example, at least 28 very similar alleles are subtypes of HLA-B27. These subtypes are designated as HLA-B*2701 to HLA-B*2728.

The HLA-B gene is located on the short (p) arm of chromosome 6 at cytoband 21.3, from base pair 31,429,845 to 31,432,923.

Read more about HLA-B:  Related Conditions