Contribution of mutation, recombination, and gene conversion to chicken MHC-B haplotype diversity

J Immunol. 2008 Sep 1;181(5):3393-9. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.181.5.3393.


The Mhc is a highly conserved gene region especially interesting to geneticists because of the rapid evolution of gene families found within it. High levels of Mhc genetic diversity often exist within populations. The chicken Mhc is the focus of considerable interest because of the strong, reproducible infectious disease associations found with particular Mhc-B haplotypes. Sequence data for Mhc-B haplotypes have been lacking thereby hampering efforts to systematically resolve which genes within the Mhc-B region contribute to well-defined Mhc-B-associated disease responses. To better understand the genetic factors that generate and maintain genomic diversity in the Mhc-B region, we determined the complete genomic sequence for 14 Mhc-B haplotypes across a region of 59 kb that encompasses 14 gene loci ranging from BG1 to BF2. We compared the sequences using alignment, phylogenetic, and genome profiling methods. We identified gene structural changes, synonymous and non-synonymous polymorphisms, insertions and deletions, and allelic gene rearrangements or exchanges that contribute to haplotype diversity. Mhc-B haplotype diversity appears to be generated by a number of mutational events. We found evidence that some Mhc-B haplotypes are derived by whole- and partial-allelic gene conversion and homologous reciprocal recombination, in addition to nucleotide mutations. These data provide a framework for further analyses of disease associations found among these 14 haplotypes and additional haplotypes segregating and evolving in wild and domesticated populations of chickens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Gene Conversion
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Haplotypes*
  • Major Histocompatibility Complex / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Phylogeny
  • Recombination, Genetic*