, Volume 57, Issue 10, pp 763-774

Genomic characterization of MHC class I genes of the horse

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The availability of a contig of bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones spanning the equine major histocompatibility complex (MHC) made possible a detailed analysis of horse MHC class I genes. Prior to this study, only a single horse MHC class I gene had been sequenced at the genomic level. Although many (∼60) MHC class I cDNA sequences had been determined and published, from this information, it was not possible to determine how many class I loci are expressed in horses or to assign individual sequences to allelic series. In this study, 15 MHC class I genes were identified in BAC subclones and fully sequenced. Because the BAC library donor horse had been bred for homozygosity at the MHC, these 15 genomic clones represent distinct MHC class I genes and pseudogenes and not alleles at a smaller number of loci. For five of the genes, cDNA sequences from these loci had previously been identified. Two additional expressed class I genes were discovered, bringing the known total of different equine MHC class I genes (loci) expressed as mRNA to seven. Expression of all seven loci was detected by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction in adult, fetal, and placental tissues. The remaining eight genes were designated as pseudogenes. This work resulted in moderate expansion of the horse MHC BAC contig length, and the remaining gap was shortened. The information contained in these equine MHC class I sequences will permit comparison of MHC class I genes expressed across different horse MHC haplotypes and between horses and other mammalian species.

The nucleotide sequence data reported are available in the GenBank database under the accession numbers CZ552047–CZ552159, CZ559424–CZ559456, and DQ083407–DQ083421