Review

‘Ovar-Mhc’ - ovine major histocompatibility complex: structure and gene polymorphisms

Published: October 06, 2006
Genet. Mol. Res. 5 (4) : 581-608

Abstract

The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in sheep, Ovar-Mhc, is poorly characterised, when compared to other domestic animals. However, its basic structure is similar to that of other mammals, comprising class I, II and III regions. Currently, there is evidence for the existence of four class I loci. The class II region is better characterised, with evidence of one DRA, four DRB (one coding and three non-coding), one DQA1, two DQA2, and one each of the DQB1, DQB2, DNA, DOB, DYA, DYB, DMA, and DMB genes in the region. The class III region is the least characterised, with the known presence of complement cascade (C4, C2 and Bf), TNFa and CYP21 genes. Products of the class I and II genes, MHC molecules, play a pivotal role in antigen presentation required for eliciting immune responses against invading pathogens. Several studies have focused on polymorphisms of Ovar-Mhc genes and their association with disease resistance. However, more research emphasis is needed on characterising the remaining Ovar-Mhc genes and developing simplified and cost-effective methods to score gene polymorphisms. Haplotype screening, employing multiple markers rather than single genes, would be more meaningful in MHC-disease association studies, as it is well known that most of the MHC loci are tightly linked, exhibiting very little recombination. This review summarises the current knowledge of the structure of Ovar-Mhc and polymorphisms of genes located in the complex.

The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in sheep, Ovar-Mhc, is poorly characterised, when compared to other domestic animals. However, its basic structure is similar to that of other mammals, comprising class I, II and III regions. Currently, there is evidence for the existence of four class I loci. The class II region is better characterised, with evidence of one DRA, four DRB (one coding and three non-coding), one DQA1, two DQA2, and one each of the DQB1, DQB2, DNA, DOB, DYA, DYB, DMA, and DMB genes in the region. The class III region is the least characterised, with the known presence of complement cascade (C4, C2 and Bf), TNFa and CYP21 genes. Products of the class I and II genes, MHC molecules, play a pivotal role in antigen presentation required for eliciting immune responses against invading pathogens. Several studies have focused on polymorphisms of Ovar-Mhc genes and their association with disease resistance. However, more research emphasis is needed on characterising the remaining Ovar-Mhc genes and developing simplified and cost-effective methods to score gene polymorphisms. Haplotype screening, employing multiple markers rather than single genes, would be more meaningful in MHC-disease association studies, as it is well known that most of the MHC loci are tightly linked, exhibiting very little recombination. This review summarises the current knowledge of the structure of Ovar-Mhc and polymorphisms of genes located in the complex.

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