Immunogenetics

, Volume 50, Issue 3–4, pp 168–200

The gene conversion hypothesis of MHC evolution: a review

  • J. Th. Martinsohn
  • A. B. Sousa
  • L. A. Guethlein
  • J. C. Howard
REVIEW

DOI: 10.1007/s002510050593

Cite this article as:
Martinsohn, J., Sousa, A., Guethlein, L. et al. Immunogenetics (1999) 50: 168. doi:10.1007/s002510050593

Abstract

 Gene conversion is often invoked to explain the evolution of sequence patterns observed in major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes and their alleles. This is the gene conversion hypothesis of MHC sequence evolution. These observations and their interpretation probably belong in a larger theoretical framework, namely the evolution of systems of resistance to rapidly evolving pathogens. This review looks critically at the evidence in favor of the gene conversion hypothesis in this context. We conclude that the case for the existence of an adaptive mechanism in the MHC favoring gene conversion mutations is not proven.

Key words Host-pathogen interaction Evolution of gene families Adaptive mutation rates Histocompatibility mutants Homologous recombination 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Th. Martinsohn
    • 1
  • A. B. Sousa
    • 1
  • L. A. Guethlein
    • 1
  • J. C. Howard
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne, Zülpicher Straße 47, D-50674 Cologne, Germany e-mail: jann.martinsohn@uni-koeln.de Tel.: +49-221-4705294 Fax: +49-221-4705015DE

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