Generalists and Specialists: A New View of How MHC Class I Molecules Fight Infectious Pathogens.

02 Feb 2018

In comparison with the major histocompatibility complexes (MHCs) of typical mammals, the chicken MHC is simple and compact with a single dominantly expressed class I molecule that can determine the immune response. In addition to providing useful information for the poultry industry and allowing insights into the evolution of the adaptive immune system, the simplicity of the chicken MHC has allowed the discovery of phenomena that are more difficult to discern in the more complicated mammalian systems. This review discusses the new concept that poorly expressed promiscuous class I alleles act as generalists to protect against a wide variety of infectious pathogens, while highly expressed fastidious class I alleles can act as specialists to protect against new and dangerous pathogens.