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Genetics. 1997 Aug;146(4):1299-309.

Allelic specificity at the het-c heterokaryon incompatibility locus of Neurospora crassa is determined by a highly variable domain.

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Botany Department, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


In filamentous fungi, the ability to form a productive heterokaryon with a genetically dissimilar individual is controlled by specific loci termed het loci. Only strains homozygous for all het loci can establish a heterokaryon. In Neurospora crassa, 11 loci, including the mating-type locus, regulate the capacity to form heterokaryons. An allele of the het-c locus (het-cOR) of N. crassa has been previously characterized and encodes a nonessential 966 amino acid glycine-rich protein. Herein, we describe the genetic and molecular characterization of two hei-c alleles, het-cPA and het-cOR, that have a different specificity from that of het-cOR, showing that vegetative incompatibility is mediated by multiple alleles at het-c. By constructing chimeric alleles, we show that het-c specificity is determined by a highly variable domain of 34-48 amino acids in length. In this regard, het-c is similar to loci that regulate recognition in other species, such as the (S) self-incompatibility locus in plants, the sexual compatibility locus in basidiomycetes and the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes in vertebrates.

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