Diversification of porcine MHC class II genes: Evidence for selective advantage

Erin S. Luetkemeier, Ripan S. Malhi, Jonathan E. Beever, Lawrence B. Schook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is an immunological gene-dense region of high diversity in mammalian species. Sus scrofa was domesticated by at least six independent events over Eurasia during the Holocene period. It has been hypothesized that the level and distribution of MHC variation in pig populations reflect genetic selection and environmental influences. In an effort to define the complexity of MHC polymorphisms and the role of selection in the generation of class II gene diversity (DQB, DRB1, and pseudogene ΨDRB3), DNA from globally distributed unrelated domestic pigs of European and Asian origins and a Suidae out-group was analyzed. The number of pseudogene alleles identified (ΨDRB3 33) was greater than those found in the expressed genes (DQB 20 and DRB1 23) but the level of observed heterozygosity (ΨDRB3 0.452, DQB 0.732, and DRB1 0.767) and sequence diversity (ΨDRB3 0.029, DQB 0.062, and DRB1 0.074) were significantly lower in the pseudogene, respectively. The substitution ratios reflected an excess of d N (DQB 1.476, DRB1 1.724, and ΨDRB3 0.508) and the persistence of expressed gene alleles suggesting the influence of balancing selection, while the pseudogene was undergoing purifying selection. The lack of a clear MHC phylogeographic tree, coupled with close genetic distances observed between the European and Asian populations (DQB 0.047 and DRB1 0.063) suggested that unlike observations using mtDNA, the MHC diversity lacks phylogeographic structure and appears to be globally uniform. Taken together, these results suggest that, despite regional differences in selective breeding and environments, no skewing of MHC diversity has occurred.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009


  • Balancing selection
  • MHC class II genes
  • MHC diversity
  • Porcine major histocompatibility complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Diversification of porcine MHC class II genes: Evidence for selective advantage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this