, Volume 63, Issue 8, pp 523–530 | Cite as

Genetic mapping of the major histocompatibility complex in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata)

  • Robert Ekblom
  • Jessica Stapley
  • Alex D. Ball
  • Tim Birkhead
  • Terry Burke
  • Jon Slate
Original Paper


Genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) have received much attention in immunology, genetics, and ecology because they are highly polymorphic and play important roles in parasite resistance and mate choice. Until recently, the MHC of passerine birds was not well-described. However, the genome sequencing of the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) has partially redressed this gap in our knowledge of avian MHC genes. Here, we contribute further to the understanding of the zebra finch MHC organization by mapping SNPs within or close to known MHC genes in the zebra finch genome. MHC class I and IIB genes were both mapped to zebra finch chromosome 16, and there was no evidence that MHC class I genes are located on chromosome 22 (as suggested by the genome assembly). We confirm the location in the MHC region on chromosome 16 for several other genes (BRD2, FLOT1, TRIM7.2, GNB2L1, and CSNK2B). Two of these (CSNK2B and FLOT1) have not previously been mapped in any other bird species. In line with previous results, we also find that orthologs to the immune-related genes B-NK and CLEC2D, which are part of the MHC region in chicken, are situated on zebra finch chromosome Z and not among other MHC genes in the zebra finch.


MHC Bird Chromosome Linkage map SNP 



We thank Andy Krupa for lab assistance. Christopher Balakrishnan kindly shared MHC BAC sequences and provided valuable discussions on our results, and three anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments on a previous version of this manuscript. This work was partially funded by an EC Transfer of Knowledge grant (MAERO) and a BBSRC grant (BB/E017509/1), both awarded to JS.

Supplementary material

251_2011_525_MOESM1_ESM.xls (46 kb)
Online Resource 1 Table with information on all the MHC related SNPs identified in this study (96SNPinfo.xls) (XLS 46 kb)
251_2011_525_MOESM2_ESM.fas (4 kb)
Online Resource 2 Sequences of all SNPs included in this study (SNPs.fas) (FAS 3 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Ekblom
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jessica Stapley
    • 2
  • Alex D. Ball
    • 2
    • 3
  • Tim Birkhead
    • 2
  • Terry Burke
    • 2
  • Jon Slate
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Population Biology and Conservation BiologyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  3. 3.Department of Biology and BiochemistryUniversity of BathBathUK

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