Defining the Turkey MHC: Identification of expressed class I- and class IIB-like genes independent of the MHC-B

Kent Reed, Miranda M. Bauer, Melissa S. Monson, Benjamin Benoit, Lee D. Chaves, Thomas H. O'Hare, Mary E. Delany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The MHC of the turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is divided into two genetically unlinked regions; the MHC-B and MHC-Y. Although previous studies found the turkey MHC-B to be highly similar to that of the chicken, little is known of the gene content and extent of the MHC-Y. This study describes two partially overlapping large-insert BAC clones that genetically and physically map to the turkey MHC chromosome (MGA18) but to a region that assorts independently of MHC-B. Within the sequence assembly, 14 genes were predicted including new class I- and class IIB-like loci. Additional unassembled sequences corresponded to multiple copies of the ribosomal RNA repeat unit (18S-5.8S-28S). Thus, this newly identified MHC region appears to represent a physical boundary of the turkey MHC-Y. High-resolution multi-color fluorescence in situ hybridization studies confirm rearrangement of MGA18 relative to the orthologous chicken chromosome (GGA16) in regard to chromosome architecture, but not gene order. The difference in centromere position between the species is indicative of multiple chromosome rearrangements or alternate events such as neocentromere formation/centromere inactivation in the evolution of the MHC chromosome. Comparative sequencing of commercial turkeys (six amplicons totaling 7.6 kb) identified 68 single nucleotide variants defining nine MHC-Y haplotypes. Sequences of the new class I- and class IIB-like genes are most similar to MHC-Y genes in the chicken. All three loci are expressed in the spleen. Differential transcription of the MHC-Y class IIB-like loci was evident as one class IIB-like locus was only expressed in some individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-771
Number of pages19
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • B-locus
  • Class I
  • Class IIB
  • MHC
  • Y-locus


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