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A map of the class III region of the sheep major histocompatibilty complex

J Qin1, C Mamotte1, NE Cockett2, JD Wetherall1 and DM Groth1*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Biomedical Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, 6845, Western Australia

2 Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-4700, USA

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:409  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-409

Published: 11 September 2008



The central, or class III, region of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is an important gene rich sub-region of the MHC of mammals and contains many loci implicated in disease processes and potential productivity traits. As a prelude to identifying MHC loci associated with productivity traits in sheep, we have used BAC and cosmid libraries of genomic DNA to generate a physical map of the sheep MHC class III region. This map will facilitate association studies and provide insights into the distribution of recombination events in this chromosomal segment.


Twenty eight sheep genes were identified in 10 BAC clones which spanned approximately 700 kbp of a chromosomal region adjacent to the class I region of the sheep MHC and which therefore covers most, if not all, of the class III of the sheep MHC. The relative positions of 17 of these genes was established as well as two additional groups of genes for which the intragroup order was not known. Cosmid mapping permitted a more detailed mapping of the complement genes present in the class III and showed a local inversion (relative to humans) of one pair of the duplicated complement C4 and CYP21 loci. A panel of 26 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was identified in 10 loci, covering ≈600 kbp of the mapped region.


This report provides a physical map covering ≈700 kbp of the class III of the sheep MHC together with a SNP panel which will facilitate disease and productivity association studies. The presence of a local inversion (relative to humans) of one pair of the duplicated C4 and CYP21 loci and a previously described dinucleotide tandem repeat locus (BfMs) has been located within an intron of the SK12VL gene.