The protein encoded by this gene is a member of the glucuronyltransferase gene family. These enzymes exhibit strict acceptor specificity, recognizing nonreducing terminal sugars and their anomeric linkages. This gene product functions as the key enzyme in a glucuronyl transfer reaction during the biosynthesis of the carbohydrate epitope HNK-1 (human natural killer-1, also known as CD57 and LEU7). Alternate transcriptional splice variants have been characterized.
There is an increase in the number of circulating CD57 positive cells in the blood of patients who have recently undergone organ or tissue transplants, especially of the bone marrow, and in patients with HIV. Increased CD57+ counts have also been reported in rheumatoid arthritis and Felty's syndrome, among other conditions. High levels of CD57 expression amongst circulating CD8+ T cells is associated with other markers of immune ageing (immunosenescence) and may be associated with increased cancer risk in renal transplant recipients.
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