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Rev Sci Tech. 1998 Apr;17(1):128-42.

The chicken major histocompatibility complex and disease.

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Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames 50011-3150, USA.


The chicken major histocompatibility complex (MHC), or B complex, consists of several clusters of highly polymorphic genes, some of which are associated with disease resistance. The class I and class II antigens resemble their mammalian counterparts in the encoded protein structure. The class IV region encodes the B blood group antigens, which are readily identified by serological blood-typing. The class III region appears to be divided in chickens, with some elements that are MHC-linked and others that map elsewhere. In addition the Rfp-Y system, which bears a strong similarity to the MHC, maps to the opposite side of the nucleolar organiser region on the same microchromosome as the MHC. Each class of MHC genes is a potential candidate for a role in disease resistance. The MHC genes show associations with response to diseases as diverse as virally induced neoplasia, bacterial, parasitic and auto-immune diseases.

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