, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 29-38

Evolution of the major histocompatibility complex: a hundred-fold amplification of MHC class I genes in the African pigmy mouse Nannomys setulosus

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The genome of the African murine rodent Nannomys setulosus was found to harbor several thousand major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I genes instead of the 30–40 genes found in conventional laboratory mice, which are mostly of Mus musculus domesticus origin. Other genes of N. setulosus, either functionally or physically linked to class I genes, are not amplified. Amplified genes derive from as few as three ancestors and amplification has likely occured after the divergence of the two Nannomys species, N. setulosus and N. minutoides, which took place about three million years ago. Amplified genes are mostly pseudogenes. Statistical analysis of dinucleotide frequencies leads us to propose that inactivation of the genes has occured through the repeat induced mutation process, a possible “newcomer” in the evolution of the MHC.

The nucleotide sequence data reported in this paper have been submitted to the EMBL nucleotide data library and have been assigned the accession numbers X61685 and X61686.
Correspondence to : G. Gachelin.