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Immunogenetics. 2005 Nov;57(10):782-9. Epub 2005 Nov 8.

An Mhc class I allele associated to the expression of T-dependent immune response in the house sparrow.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Parasitologie Evolutive CNRS UMR 7103, Université Pierre et Marie Curie Paris 6, 7 quai St Bernard, bât. A 7e étage, case 237, Paris cedex 05 75252, France.


The major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) encodes for highly variable molecules, responsible for foreign antigen recognition and subsequent activation of immune responses in hosts. Mhc polymorphism should hence be related to pathogen resistance and immune activity, with individuals that carry either a higher diversity of Mhc alleles or one specific Mhc allele exhibiting a stronger immune response to a given antigen. Links between Mhc alleles and immune activity have never been explored in natural populations of vertebrates. To fill this gap, we challenged house sparrows (Passer domesticus) with two T-dependent antigens (phytohemagglutinin and sheep red blood cells) and examined both primary and secondary immune responses in relation to their Mhc class I genotypes. The total number of Mhc alleles had no influence on either primary or secondary response to the two antigens. One particular Mhc allele, however, was associated with an increased response to both antigens. Our results point toward a contribution of the Mhc, or of other genes in linkage disequilibrium with the Mhc, in the regulation of immune responses in a wild animal species.

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