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Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 589–598 | Cite as

Mhc Allelic Diversity and Modern Human Origins

  • Robert E.  Hickson
  • Rebecca L.  Cann

Abstract.

Thirty complete coding sequences of human major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) class II DRB alleles, spanning 237 codons, were analyzed for phylogenetic information using distance, parsimony, and likelihood approaches. Allelic genealogies derived from different parts of the coding sequence (exon 2, the 5′ and 3′ ends of exon 2, respectively, and exons 3–6) were compared. Contrary to prior assertions, a rigorous analysis of allelic genealogies in this gene family cannot be used to justify the claim that the lineage leading to modern humans contained on average at least 100,000 individuals. Phylogenetic inferences based upon the exon 2 region of the DRB loci are complicated by selection and recombination, so this part of the gene does not provide a complete and accurate view of allelic relationships. Attempts to reconstruct human history from genetic data must use realistic models which consider the complicating factors of nonequilibrium populations, recombination, and different patterns of selection.

Key words: Major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) — HLA — Human evolution — Phylogenetics — Coalescence — Genetic diversity — Selection 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert E.  Hickson
    • 1
  • Rebecca L.  Cann
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, 1960 East-West Rd., University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USAUS

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