Functional expression of a bovine major histocompatibility complex class I gene in transgenic mice

Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I restricted cellular immune responses play an important role in immunity to intracellular pathogens. By binding antigenic peptides and presenting them to T cells, class I molecules impose significant selection on the targets of immune responses. Candidate vaccine antigens for cellular immune responses should therefore be analysed in the context of MHC class I antigen presentation. Transgenic mice expressing human MHC (HLA) genes provide a useful model for the identification of potential cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) antigens. To facilitate the analysis of candidate CTL vaccines in cattle, we have produced transgenic mice expressing a common bovine MHC (BoLA) class I allele. The functional BoLA-A11 gene, carried on a 7 kb genomic DNA fragment, was used to make transgenic mice by pronuclear microinjection. Three transgenic mouse lines carrying the BoLA-A11 gene were established. Expression of the BoLA-A11 gene was found in RNA and the A11 product could be detected on the surface of spleen and blood cells. Functional analysis of the A11 transgene product, and its ability to act as an antigen presenting molecules in the mouse host will be discussed.