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The MHC genes on human chromosome 6 are located within one of the best-characterised paralogy regions of the human genome. Numerous genes mapping around this location, 6p21, have paralogues at one, two or three other chromosomal locations on HSA 1, 9 and 19. The similarity between these four chromosomal regions suggests the linkages may have adaptive significance, and/or they may be echoes of segmental or genome duplication in human ancestry. Here, we show that six amphioxus cosmids, containing genes orthologous to those from the human MHC-linked paralogy regions, map to a single amphioxus chromosome. The composition of the MHC-linked genomic region, therefore, pre-dates vertebrate origins.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





782 - 784


Animals, Chordata, Nonvertebrate, Chromosome Mapping, Evolution, Molecular, Humans, In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence, Major Histocompatibility Complex, Multigene Family