To explore genetic mechanisms responsible for major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I evolution in the artiodactyls, we cloned and sequenced MHC class I cDNAs from a Bos taurus bull heterozygous for cattle MHC (BoLA) class I serological specificities w2 and w30. Four unique cDNAs were found, indicating the presence of at least two MHC class I loci. Analysis of these four cDNAs and all previously published BoLA cDNA sequences suggested that there may be three cattle MHC class I loci. Additionally, comparison of all of the BoLA class I cDNAs to MHC class I cDNAs of other artiodactyls showed that some of the BoLA class I cDNAs were more similar to certain sheep cDNAs than they were to other cattle cDNAs. These data indicate that each BoLA class I locus has evolved independently after an ancestral gene duplication event and that inter-locus segmental exchange o or concerted evolution has not occurred rapidly enough to cause extensive divergence between the orthologous MHC class I loci of sheep and cattle.
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