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Research Abstracts Online
January 2010 - March 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Veterinary Medicine
Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences

PI: Kent M. Reed

The Turkey MHC: Sequence, Haplotype Structure, and Gene Expression

The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) locus is considered the most polymorphic and gene-dense region in the genome and is a key component in adaptive immunity. Whereas detailed studies have characterized the MHC region of mice and humans and several species of agricultural importance, information on the MHC locus of the economically important turkey is lacking. This study was designed to examine the turkey MHC by addressing three key questions: what genes are present in the turkey MHC; how variable is the MHC locus across the species; and which genes are expressed in immune cell populations? This information is an absolute requirement for these researchers’ long-term goal of incorporating MHC variation in vaccine and disease challenge studies and ultimately in selective breeding. The ability to modulate the immune system to produce healthier birds would have significant impact on commercial flocks and would address key problems of national and regional importance. Results from this project can also provide comparative information important in the continued investigation of the chicken MHC.

The group’s specific objectives were to: expand the core turkey MHC sequence (MHC-B 5’ and 3’ directions and MHC-Y); measure MHC haplotype diversity within the species by comparing DNA sequence variation in commercial, heritage, and wild turkeys; and quantify expression of genes in the expanded MHC by examining immune system tissues and immune cell populations.

Group Member

Miranda M. Bauer, Graduate Student