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A definitive source of HLA molecule sequences and nomenclature

Christopher J Thorpe

Genome Biology 2000, 1:reports201  doi:10.1186/gb-2000-1-1-reports201

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Received:1 September 1999
Published:17 March 2000

© 2000 BioMed Central Ltd


The HLA informatics group homepage contains a collection of resources vital to anyone interested in the complex field of HLA alleles (human major histocompatibility complex or MHC genes), their nomenclature and DNA sequences. The site forms part of the ImMunoGeneTics (IMGT) project, a collection of collaborating websites that maintains sequence databases of interest to immunologists: together, the small databases of sequences of immunoglobulins, T-cell receptors and MHC molecules of all vertebrate species form the IMGT database. Monthly HLA nomenclature updates and the current World Health Organization nomenclature information are also detailed. Importantly, the site lists erroneous HLA alleles that have now been renamed or deleted.


Navigation is easy and no broken links were found. The information is well presented and downloads swiftly. In some cases, however, the user is forced to use the browser 'back' button to return to the referring page or homepage, particularly on pages about nomenclature. There is no need for a search function because navigation through the site is simple.

Reporter's comments


The site is regularly updated - as soon as new alleles are added to the collection - and each of the time-sensitive pages includes the date of updating.

Best feature

The most appealing feature is the ease of access to large amounts of datathat used to be hard to find (before the advent of this site, and of the Histo server, which is now defunct). The rate of change in this field is high, and the curation of this database is highly valuable.

Wish list

The only function found missing from the site is a table that links the serologically identified HLA antigens with their respective HLA allele(s). This would facilitate comparison of older results and publications with more modern data.

Related websites

BoLA nomenclature committee website is intended to be the definitive source of information on the bovine major histocompatibility complex. The MHCPEP database of MHC-binding peptides comprises over 13,000 peptide sequences known to bind MHC molecules.

Table of links

Assumptions made about all sites unless otherwise specified:
The site is free, in English and no registration is required. It is relatively quick to download, can be navigated by an 'intermediate' user, and no problems with connection were found. The site does not stipulate that any particular browser be used and no special software/plug-ins are required to view the site. There are relatively few gratuitous images and each page has its own URL, allowing it to be bookmarked.