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Immunol Rev. 1995 Feb;143:181-97.

Pathogen-based models favoring MHC genetic diversity.

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Department of Pathology, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610-0275, USA.


We present six models that are currently the most likely ways that pathogens might favor the evolution of MHC genetic diversity. Although each model makes one or more unique predictions, the current lack of crucial data prevents distinguishing the relative importance of each model. However, this first-time organization of these models should contribute to the design of critical experiments. This synthetic review yields at least three essentially new ideas. First, MHC-dependent immune recognition may be sufficiently redundant to render it essentially escape-proof by pathogens. Second, the four models based on pathogen escape do not work (or work weakly) for diversifying class II genes, unless class II-restricted cytotoxic T-cells are important, an idea that is controversial. Third, pathogen-escape events have traditionally been thought to result in only frequency-dependent selection but here we show that heterozygote advantage is an inevitable consequence of such pathogen evasion. Therefore, the controversy over the relative importance of these two forms of balancing selection is largely a false dichotomy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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