Characterization of the bovine major histocompatibility complex
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Genes within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) are involved in immune response to infectious agents, tumor metastasis, stress response, gametogenesis, and development, including embryogenesis. Therefore, characterization of the organization and content of this region will aid in the identification and isolation of genes that can be used to increase disease resistance and improve health and productivity in cattle. In both mice and humans, the organization of the MHC is conserved and found in a small, continuous region of about 300Mb of DNA. However, genes of the bovine MHC are found in two clusters on chromosome 23 separated by approximately 20Mb of DNA. The disruption of the organization of the bovine MHC was caused by a large inversion that apparently is common to all artiodactyl species. To better define the breakpoints of the inversion, we screened a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) library and isolated a clone (BAC 27) that contains both the centromeric gene glutamylcystein synthetase (GCS) as well as an MHC gene, DYA. Therefore, the centromeric breakpoint for the inversion is contained in BAC 27 between GCS and DYA. Using sequences obtained from BAC 27 subclones several bovine MHC genes involved in the inversion can be identified. These genes may play an important role in immune response and productivity in cattle and will increase our understanding of the organization of the bovine MHC. Comparing the organization of the bovine MHC with the organization found in mice, humans, and other animals, will help determine the evolutionary history of this important region of the genome.
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Includes bibliographical references.
McArthur, Monica (1999). Characterization of the bovine major histocompatibility complex. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from