Major histocompatibility complex genes and locus organization in the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis)

Kent M. Reed, Robert E. Settlage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We performed a meta-analysis of the newly assembled Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) genome to characterize the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) of the species. The MHC gene clusters of the Komodo dragon are gene dense, complex, and contain counterparts of many genes of the human MHC. Our analysis identified 20 contigs encompassing ~ 6.9 Mbp of sequence with 223 annotated genes of which many are predicted orthologs to the genes of the human MHC. These MHC contigs range in size from 13.2 kb to 21.5 Mbp, contain an average of one gene per 30 kb, and are thought to occur on at least two chromosomes. Eight contigs, each > 100 kb, could be aligned to the human MHC based on gene content, and these represent gene clusters found in each of the recognized mammalian MHC subregions. The MHC of the Komodo dragon shares organizational features of other non-mammalian taxa. Multiple class Iα and class IIβ genes are indicated, with linkage between classical class I and immunoproteasome genes and between framework class I genes and genes associated with the mammalian class III subregion. These findings are supported in both Komodo genome assemblies and provide new insight into the MHC organization of these unique squamate reptiles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-417
Number of pages13
Issue number5
Early online dateMay 12 2021
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Evolution
  • Genome
  • Komodo dragon
  • MHC

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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