Although major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) genes have been identified in a number of species, little is yet known about their organization in species other than human and mouse. The zebrafish, Danio rerio, is a good candidate for full elucidation of the organization of its Mhc. As a step toward achieving this goal, a commercially available zebrafish BAC library was screened with probes specific for previously identified zebrafish class I and class II genes, as well as for genes controlling the proteasome subunits LMP7 and LMP2. Restriction maps of the individual positive clones were prepared and the Mhc (LMP7) genes localized to specific fragments. The total length of genomic DNA fragments with Mhc genes was approximately 1,700 kilobases (kb) (200 kb of fragments bearing class I loci and 1,500 kb of fragments bearing class II loci). One of the two class I loci (Dare-UCA) is closely associated with the LMP7 locus; the second class I locus (Dare-UAA) is more than 50 kb distant from the UCA locus and has no LMP genes associated with it. None of the class II genes are linked to the class I or the LMP genes. All six of the previously identified class II B genes and one of the three class II A genes were found to be present in the BAC clones; no new Mhc loci could be identified in the library. Each of the six previously identified class II B loci was found to be borne by a separate group of BAC clones. The Dare-DAB and -DAA loci were found on the same clone, approximately 15 kb apart from each other. An expansion of DCB and DDB loci was detected: the zebrafish genome may contain at least five closely related DCB and two closely related DDB loci which are presumably the products of relatively recent tandem duplication. These results are consistent with linkage studies and indicate that in the zebrafish, the class I and class II loci are on different chromosomes, and the class II loci are in three different regions, at least two of which are on different chromosomes.
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