Genotypic variability at the major histocompatibility complex (B and Rfp-Y) in Camperos broiler chickens


Address for correspondence: O. J. Lopez, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina. E-mail:


Evidence for the importance of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genotype in immunological fitness of chickens continues to accumulate. The MHC B haplotypes contribute resistance to Marek's and other diseases of economic importance. The Rfp-Y, a second cluster of MHC genes in the chicken, may also contribute to disease resistance. Nevertheless, the MHC B and Rfp-Y haplotypes segregating in broiler chickens are poorly documented. The Camperos, free-range broiler chickens developed in Argentina, provide an opportunity to evaluate MHC diversity in a genetically diverse broiler stock. Camperos are derived by cross-breeding parental stocks maintained essentially without selection since their founding. We analysed 51 DNA samples from the Camperos and their parental lines for MHC B and Rfp-Y variability by restriction fragment pattern (rfp) and SSCP typing methods for B-G, B-F (class Ia), B-Lβ (class II) and Y-F (class Ib) diversity. We found evidence for 38 B-G genotypes. The Camperos B-G patterns were not shared with White Leghorn controls, nor were any of a limited number of Camperos B-G gene sequences identical to published B-G sequences. The SSCP assays provided evidence for the presence of at least 28 B-F and 29 B-Lβ genotypes. When considered together B-F, B-L, and B-G patterns provide evidence for 40 Camperos B genotypes. We found even greater Rfp-Y diversity. The Rfp-Y class I-specific probe, 163/164f, revealed 44 different rfps among the 51 samples. We conclude that substantial MHC B and Rfp-Y diversity exists within broiler chickens that might be drawn upon in selecting for desirable immunological traits.