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Heredity (Edinb). 1996 Oct;77 ( Pt 4):400-9.

Non-random fertilization in mice correlates with the MHC and something else.

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Abteilung Verhaltensökologie, Universität Bern, Hinterkappelen, Switzerland.


One evolutionary explanation for the success of sexual reproduction assumes that sex is an advantage in the coevolutionary arms race between pathogens and hosts. Accordingly, an important criterion in mate choice and maternal selection thereafter could be the allelic specificity at polymorphic loci involved in parasite-host interactions, e.g. the MHC (major histocompatibility complex). The MHC has been found to influence mate choice and selective abortions in mice and humans. However, it could also influence the fertilization process itself, i.e. (i) the oocyte's choice for the fertilizing sperm, and (ii) the outcome of the second meiotic division after the sperm has entered the egg. We tested both hypotheses in an in vitro fertilization experiment with two inbred mouse strains congenic for their MHC. The genotypes of the resulting blastocysts were determined by polymerase chain reaction. We found nonrandom MHC combinations in the blastocysts which may result from both possible choice mechanisms. The outcome changed significantly over time, indicating that a choice for MHC combinations during fertilization may be influenced by one or several external factors.

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