Using Alu J Elements as Molecular Clocks to Trace the Evolutionary Relationships Between Duplicated HLA Class I Genomic Segments

J.K. Kulski, Silvana Gaudieri, R.L. Dawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The class I region of the major histocompatibility complex contains two subgenomic blocks (250-350 kb each), known as the alpha and beta blocks. These blocks contain members of multicopy gene families including HLA class I, HERV-16 (previously called P5 sequences), and PERB 11 (MIC). We have previously shown that each block consists of imperfect duplicated segments (duplicons) containing linked members of different gene families, retroelements and transposons that have coevolved as part of two separate evolutionary events. Another region provisionally designated here as the kappa block is located between the alpha and the beta blocks and contains HLA-E, -30, and -92, HERV-16 (P5.3), and PERB11.3 (MICC) within about 250 kb of sequence. Using Alu elements to trace the evolutionary relationships between different class I duplicons, we have found that (a) the kappa block contains paralogous (duplicated) Alu J sequences and other retroelement patterns more in common with the beta than the alpha block; (b) the retroelement pattern associated with the HLA-E duplicon is different from all other HLA class I duplicons, indicating a more complex evolution; (c) the HLA-92 duplicon, although substantially shorter, is closely related in sequence to the HLA-B and -C duplicons; (d) two of the six paralogous Alu J elements within the HLA-B and -C duplicons are associated with the HLA-X duplicon, confirming their evolutionary relationships within the beta block; and (e) the paralogous Alu J elements within the alpha block are distinctly different from those identified within the beta and kappa blocks. The sequence conservation and location of duplicated (paralogous) Alu J elements in the MHC class I region show that the beta and kappa blocks have evolved separately from the alpha block beginning at a time before or during the evolution of Alu J elements in primates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-519
JournalJournal of Molecular Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 2000


Dive into the research topics of 'Using Alu J Elements as Molecular Clocks to Trace the Evolutionary Relationships Between Duplicated HLA Class I Genomic Segments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this