, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 159-172
Date: 23 Jan 2010

Analysis of MHC class I genes across horse MHC haplotypes

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The genomic sequences of 15 horse major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I genes and a collection of MHC class I homozygous horses of five different haplotypes were used to investigate the genomic structure and polymorphism of the equine MHC. A combination of conserved and locus-specific primers was used to amplify horse MHC class I genes with classical and nonclassical characteristics. Multiple clones from each haplotype identified three to five classical sequences per homozygous animal and two to three nonclassical sequences. Phylogenetic analysis was applied to these sequences, and groups were identified which appear to be allelic series, but some sequences were left ungrouped. Sequences determined from MHC class I heterozygous horses and previously described MHC class I sequences were then added, representing a total of ten horse MHC haplotypes. These results were consistent with those obtained from the MHC homozygous horses alone, and 30 classical sequences were assigned to four previously confirmed loci and three new provisional loci. The nonclassical genes had few alleles and the classical genes had higher levels of allelic polymorphism. Alleles for two classical loci with the expected pattern of polymorphism were found in the majority of haplotypes tested, but alleles at two other commonly detected loci had more variation outside of the hypervariable region than within. Our data indicate that the equine major histocompatibility complex is characterized by variation in the complement of class I genes expressed in different haplotypes in addition to the expected allelic polymorphism within loci.