This gene belongs to the HLA class I heavy chain paralogues. It encodes a non-classical heavy chain that forms a heterodimer with a beta-2 microglobulin light chain, with the heavy chain anchored in the membrane. Unlike most other HLA heavy chains, this molecule is localized in the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus, with a small amount present at the cell surface in some cell types. It contains a divergent peptide-binding groove, and is thought to bind a restricted subset of peptides for immune presentation. This gene exhibits few polymorphisms. Multiple transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene. These variants lack a coding exon found in transcripts from other HLA paralogues due to an altered splice acceptor site, resulting in a shorter cytoplasmic domain.