The origins of the functional class I genes predated human speciation, a phenomenon known as trans-speciation. The retention of class Ia orthologues within the great apes, however, has not been paralleled by studies designed to examine the pseudogene content, organization, and structure of their class I regions. Therefore, we have begun the systematic characterization of the Old World primate MHCs. The numbers and sizes of fragments harboring class I sequences were similar among the chimpanzee, gorilla, and human genomes tested. Both of the gorillas included in our study possessed genomic fragments carrying orthologues of the recently evolved HLA-H pseudogene identical to those found in the human. The overall megabase restriction fragment patterns of humans and chimpanzees appeared slightly more similar to each other, although the HLA-A subregional megabase variants may have been generated following the emergence of Homo sapiens. Based on the results of this initial study, it is difficult to generate a firm species tree and to determine human's closest evolutionary neighbor. Nevertheless, an analysis of MHC subregional similarities and differences in the hominoid apes may ultimately aid in localizing and identifying MHC haplotype-associated disease genes such as idiopathic hemochromatosis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy