Origins of H-2 Polymorphism

  • Felipe Figueroa
  • Jan Klein
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSA, volume 144)


The two outstanding features of H-2 polymorphism are its extent and fragmentation. We still do not know how many alleles exist at appreciable frequencies in wild mouse populations, but we do know that the number is large as far as the functional loci [H-2K, H-2D(L), H-2A, and H-2E] are concerned (Klein and Figueroa 1981, 1986). We have thus far extracted 71 H-2K, 68 H-2D(L), 66 H-2A ß, and 53 H-2E ß alleles from wild mouse populations (Klein and Figueroa 1986, Bukara et al. 1985, Nizetie et al. 1984). The polymorphism of the E α locus is low, and we find no evidence for extensive polymorphism of the A α locus, although the locus has been shown to vary among inbred strains (Benoist et al. 1983, Bukara et al. 1985). Among wild mice, however, many more alleles, exist. It is not at all difficult to extract new alleles simply through a random sampling of populations, but the probability of finding identical alleles in different populations is low, even when one uses reagents characterizing all of the already identified alleles. This situation is somewhat different from that encountered at the functional human HLA loci (Baur et al. 1984). Although many more HLA alleles than are presently known will undoubtedly be identified, most will probably turn out to be minor variants of the alleles already defined. The fact that identical or nearly identical HLA alleles are now being discovered even amongst different races indicates that the end of cataloging the major alleles is, if not near, at least within sight. The number of identified major Mhc alleles is already larger in the mouse than in man (Baur et al 1984, Klein 1986), and this difference is likely to grow even more with further typing. The difference can be explained by one or several of the following factors: the number of generations per unit of time, the age of the polymorphism, the rate of gene evolution, the social structure of the populations, the size of the original population from which each species arose, and the fluctuations in population size after the establishment of the two species. Whatever the reason, clearly the H-2 polymorphism is very high, even when measured by the Mhc standards, probably the highest of all the loci known, Mhc or others.


Gene Conversion Wild Mouse Genealogical Tree Appreciable Frequency Mutual Affinity 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felipe Figueroa
    • 1
  • Jan Klein
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Abteilung ImmungenetikMax-Planck-Institut für BiologieTübingenFederal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyThe University of Miami, School of MedicineMiamiUSA

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