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    The process of dog domestication is still somewhat unresolved. Earlier studies indicate that domestic dogs from all over the world have a common origin in Asia. So far, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) diversity has not been studied in detail in Asian dogs, although high levels of genetic diversity are expected at the domestication locality. We sequenced the second exon of the canine MHC gene DLA-DRB1 from 128 Asian dogs and compared our data with a previously published large data set of MHC alleles, mostly from European dogs. Our results show that Asian dogs have a higher MHC diversity than European dogs. We also estimated that there is only a small probability that new alleles have arisen by mutation since domestication. Based on the assumption that all of the currently known 102 DLA-DRB1 alleles come from the founding wolf population, we simulated the number of founding wolf individuals. Our simulations indicate an effective population size of at least 500 founding wolves, suggesting that the founding wolf population was large or that backcrossing has taken place.


    A K Niskanen, E Hagström, H Lohi, M Ruokonen, R Esparza-Salas, J Aspi, P Savolainen. MHC variability supports dog domestication from a large number of wolves: high diversity in Asia. Heredity. 2013 Jan;110(1):80-5

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    PMID: 23073392

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