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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. Aug 29, 2000; 355(1400): 1077–1084.
PMCID: PMC1692814

The simple chicken major histocompatibility complex: life and death in the face of pathogens and vaccines.


In contrast to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) of well-studied mammals such as humans and mice, the particular haplotype of the B-F/B-L region of the chicken B locus determines life and death in response to certain infectious pathogens as well as to certain vaccines. We found that the B-F/B-L region is much smaller and simpler than the typical mammalian MHC, with an important difference being the expression of a single class I gene at a high level of RNA and protein. The peptide-binding specificity of this dominantly expressed class I molecule in different haplotypes correlates with resistance to tumours caused by Rous sarcoma virus, while the cell-surface expression level correlates with susceptibility to tumours caused by Marek's disease virus. A similar story is developing with class II beta genes and response to killed viral vaccines. This apparently suicidal strategy of single dominantly expressed class I and class II molecules may be due to coevolution between genes within the compact chicken MHC.

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Selected References

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Articles from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences are provided here courtesy of The Royal Society


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