a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Using mice to analyse variability in H2 antigens


Breeding mice to study polymorphism
Jan Klein Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

Why I wanted to breed them is very simple. I expected that the serology which I was using at the time would be very difficult on wild mice. On the inbred mice it was facilitated by the fact that you had many individuals of the same kind so you could sort out the complexities, but in the wild... mice, they are all heterozygotes. That means they have four different genes instead of two in the H2 complex, so it was much more complex... expected to be and turned out to be that way. But eventually all these problems were managed and I was typing on wild mice.

The first thing I discovered is that the antigens could be sorted out into two categories. Some were very restricted in their distribution among the individuals while others were wildly shared between individuals, and I called the former the private antigens and the latter the public antigens. That turned out to be very helpful then in the formulation of the two-locus model because on the basis of the two-locus model it turned out that the private antigens are specific for an allele and that each inbred strain had only two private antigens, which was another evidence that there were only two loci. And it helped in the interpretation of the H2 and the polymorphism in the wild mice, so we discovered that polymorphism was indeed tremendous and were able to find out many things about the nature of the polymorphism and also about the wild mice themselves... how they lived, what social organisation they had and so on and so on. I'm not going to go into that... I would like to just mention to what these discoveries led, because at least for me then it became quite important.

Born in 1936, Jan Klein is a Czech-American immunologist who co-founded the modern science of immunogenetics – key to understanding illness and disease. He is the author or co-author of over 560 scientific publications and of seven books including 'Where Do We Come From?' which examines the molecular evolution of humans. He graduated from the Charles University at Prague in 1955, and received his MS in Botany from the same school in 1958. From 1977 to his retirement in 2004, he was the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biology at Tübingen, Germany.

Listeners: Colm O'hUigin

Colm O'hUigin is a senior staff scientist at the US National Cancer Institute. He received his BA, MSc and PhD at the Genetics Department of Trinity College, Dublin where he later returned as a lecturer. He has held appointments at the Center for Population and Demographic Genetics, UT Houston, and at the University of Cambridge. As an EMBO fellow, he moved in 1990 to the Max Planck Institute for Biology in Tübingen, Germany to work with Jan Klein and lead a research group studying the evolutionary origins of immune molecules, of teeth, trypanosomes and of species.

Tags: heterozygotes, polymorphism, two-locus model, allele, H2, private antigens, public antigens

Duration: 2 minutes, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008