We have examined the hypothesis that MHC ancestral haplotypes have a specific content of genes regulating the extent of autoimmune reactions. Gene copy number was quantitated by objective densitometry after PFGE was used to separate heterozygous AHs of different lengths. Initially we analyzed examples of known gene copy number at the C4 and 21 hydroxylase loci and showed that the approach provides predictable results. We then studied heterozygotes containing one characterized and one uncharacterized AH with particular attention to the gene copy number at the C4, Cyp21, and DRB loci. Each AH studied has a characteristic gene copy number at each locus studied. The same may be true of TNF, but other possibilities must be considered. AHs are markers for extensive chromosomal segments including particular numbers of several functional genes. Since AHs mark susceptibility to autoimmune disease, differences in gene copy number may be implicated.

This content is only available as a PDF.