Standard Article

Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC)

  1. Dustin J Penn,
  2. Petteri Ilmonen

Published Online: 23 SEP 2005

DOI: 10.1038/npg.els.0003986

eLS

eLS

How to Cite

Penn, D. J. and Ilmonen, P. 2005. Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC). eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Konrad Lorenz Institute for Ethology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 23 SEP 2005

Abstract

The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) contains the most diverse genes known in vertebrates, the class I and II loci. These highly polymorphic genes encode cell surface receptors that play a central role in controlling immunological self/nonself recognition, and subsequently, tissue rejection, autoimmunity and immune responses to infectious diseases. The polymorphisms of MHC genes have been maintained by natural selection over long periods of evolutionary time.

Keywords:

  • genetic diversity;
  • immunology;
  • host–parasite coevolution;
  • sexual selection