Greater prairie chickens have a compact MHC-B with a single class IA locus

J. A. Eimes, K. M. Reed, K. M. Mendoza, J. L. Bollmer, L. A. Whittingham, Z. W. Bateson, P. O. Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) plays a central role in innate and adaptive immunity, but relatively little is known about the evolution of the number and arrangement of MHC genes in birds. Insights into the evolution of the MHC in birds can be gained by comparing the genetic architecture of the MHC between closely related species. We used a fosmid DNA library to sequence a 60.9-kb region of the MHC of the greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido), one of five species of Galliformes with a physically mapped MHC. Greater prairie chickens have the smallest core MHC yet observed in any bird species, and major changes are observed in the number and arrangement of MHC loci. In particular, the greater prairie chicken differs from other Galliformes in the deletion of an important class I antigen binding gene. Analysis of the remaining class IA gene in a population of greater prairie chickens in Wisconsin, USA revealed little evidence for selection at the region responsible for antigen binding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-144
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments Funding was provided by grants from the Research Growth Initiative, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Graduate School, and National Science Foundation (DEB-0948695) to POD, JLB and LAW, American Ornithologists' Union, The American Museum of Natural History, and Ruth Walker Research Award from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to JAE, and USDA-CSREES NRI Grants (#2005-01326 and 2009-35205-05302) to KMR. We thank J. Toepfer and R. Bellinger for tissue collection and processing, C. Wimpee for advice and assistance in the laboratory, and R. Settlage, for assistance with bioinformatics.


  • Comparative genomics
  • Fosmid library
  • Galliformes
  • MHC
  • Tympanuchus cupido

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