Chromosome breaks: How are immune genes recombined in monkeys and humans?

1 July 2014

BPRC - 1. Chromosome breaks: How are immune genes recombined in monkeys and humans?

In all primates some important genes regulating adaptive immune responses are located together on one chromosome in the so-called Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). During germ cell production identical chromosomes of the parents may cross, break and exchange parts of their genetic material in a process called crossing-over or recombination.

Since certain immune genes control susceptibility or resistance against pathogens, it is important to compare the frequency and position of these recombination processes in both monkeys and humans. BPRC researchers have investigated how often and where recombination events occur within the genes of the MHC complex using certain genetic markers, the microsatellites. The chromosomal breaks occur at different places and frequencies in humans and rhesus monkeys, but also differ from those in long-tail macaques. However, the overall number of recombinations within the MHC is comparable in long-tail macaques and humans.

The fine-mapping of these crossing-over events is helpful for the determination of genes or genetic factors that are associated with disease susceptibility or resistance which otherwise would remain undetected. Furthermore it is significant to realize that macaques species may also be variable in this regard. This work was published in the scientific journal Immunogenetics (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00251-014-0783-4).