Haplotype Shuffling and Dimorphic Transposable Elements in the Human Extended Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II Region

Jerzy K. Kulski, Shingo Suzuki, Takashi Shiina

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7 Citations (Scopus)


The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) on chromosome 6p21 is one of the most single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-dense regions of the human genome and a prime model for the study and understanding of conserved sequence polymorphisms and structural diversity of ancestral haplotypes/conserved extended haplotypes. This study aimed to follow up on a previous analysis of the MHC class I region by using the same set of 95 MHC haplotype sequences downloaded from a publicly available BioProject database at the National Center for Biotechnology Information to identify and characterize the polymorphic human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-class II genes, the MTCO3P1 pseudogene alleles, the indels of transposable elements as haplotypic lineage markers, and SNP-density crossover (XO) loci at haplotype junctions in DNA sequence alignments of different haplotypes across the extended class II region (∼1 Mb) from the telomeric PRRT1 gene in class III to the COL11A2 gene at the centromeric end of class II. We identified 42 haplotypic indels (20 Alu, 7 SVA, 13 LTR or MERs, and 2 indels composed of a mosaic of different transposable elements) linked to particular HLA-class II alleles. Comparative sequence analyses of 136 haplotype pairs revealed 98 unique XO sites between SNP-poor and SNP-rich genomic segments with considerable haplotype shuffling located in the proximity of putative recombination hotspots. The majority of XO sites occurred across various regions including in the vicinity of MTCO3P1 between HLA-DQB1 and HLA-DQB3, between HLA-DQB2 and HLA-DOB, between DOB and TAP2, and between HLA-DOA and HLA-DPA1, where most XOs were within a HERVK22 sequence. We also determined the genomic positions of the PRDM9-recombination suppression sequence motif ATCCATG/CATGGAT and the PRDM9 recombination activation partial binding motif CCTCCCCT/AGGGGAG in the class II region of the human reference genome (NC_ 000006) relative to published meiotic recombination positions. Both the recombination and anti-recombination PRDM9 binding motifs were widely distributed throughout the class II genomic regions with 50% or more found within repeat elements; the anti-recombination motifs were found mostly in L1 fragmented repeats. This study shows substantial haplotype shuffling between different polymorphic blocks and confirms the presence of numerous putative ancestral recombination sites across the class II region between various HLA class II genes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number665899
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2021


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