What chickens would tell you about the evolution of antigen processing and presentation.

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Outside of mammals, antigen processing and presentation have only been investigated in chickens. The chicken MHC is organized differently than mammals, allowing the co-evolution of polymorphic genes, with each MHC haplotype having a set of TAP1, TAP2 and tapasin alleles directed to high expression of a single classical class I molecule. However, the class I alleles vary in the size of peptide-binding repertoire, along with a suite of other properties. The salient features of the chicken MHC are found in many non-mammalian vertebrates, and are likely to have been set at the origin of the adaptive immune system of jawed vertebrates, with unrelated genes co-evolving to set up the original pathways. Half a billion years later, various features of presentation and resistance to disease still reflect this ancestral arrangement.

Animals, Antigen Presentation, Biological Evolution, Chickens, Histocompatibility Antigens Class I, Humans, Vertebrates
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Curr Opin Immunol
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Elsevier BV
Wellcome Trust (089305/Z/09/Z)
I thank Hannah Siddle and Andy van Hateren for critical reading of the manuscript, and the Wellcome Trust programme grant 089305 for support.