More knowledge of the macaque MHC system

18 August 2017

BPRC - 1. More knowledge of the macaque MHC system

The MHC system plays a central role in the recognition of pathogens. Most genes of the MHC system in humans and monkeys are very variable and can especially in Old World apes, such as macaques, occur in different numbers. Therefore, when testing new therapies for diseases in experimental animals it is important to know the variability and numbers of MHC genes of these animals.

BPRC scientists are collaborating with various other research groups, including a group from the USA, to map the MHC of various macaque species. As a result, the number of mapped variants of certain MHC genes has almost doubled. This work (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/27771735/) also revealed that certain MHC genes in macaques display high levels of variability and occur in greater numbers than in humans. It therefore appears that during human and macaque evolution different processes have played a role in generating variation in the MHC system. 

The researchers have also developed a new method that facilitates the determination of the genetic code of long stretches of DNA. They used this method to characterize the MHC of Java monkeys, finding a large number of new MHC genes and variations. This work has been published in the scientific magazine Immunogenetics (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00251-017-0969-7).