Among the genes with the highest allelic polymorphism and sequence diversity are those encoding the classical class I and class II molecules of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). Although many thousands of MHC sequences have been deposited in general sequence databases like GenBank, the availability of curated MHC sequences with agreed nomenclature has been enormously beneficial. Along with the Immuno Polymorphism Database-IMunoGeneTics/human leukocyte antigen (IPD-IMGT/HLA) database, a collection of databases for curated sequences of immune importance has been developed. A recent addition is an IPD-MHC database for chickens. For many years, the nomenclature system for chicken MHC genes has been based on a list of standard, presumed to be stable, haplotypes. However, these standard haplotypes give different names to identical sequences. Moreover, the discovery of new recombinants between haplotypes and a rapid increase in newly discovered alleles leaves the old system untenable. In this review, a new nomenclature is considered, for which alleles of different loci are given names based on the system used for other MHCs, and then haplotypes are named according to the alleles present. The new nomenclature system is trialled, first with standard haplotypes and then with validated sequences from the scientific literature. In the trial, some class II B sequences were found in both class II loci, presumably by gene conversion or inversion, so that identical sequences would receive different names. This situation prompts further suggestions to the new nomenclature system. In summary, there has been progress, but also problems, with the new IPD-MHC system for chickens.
- BF-BL region