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Jim Kaufman

Evolution of immunity

My lab is interested in the evolution of immunity, and we have focused over the last 25 years on the chicken major histocompatibilty complex (MHC) and associated genetic regions, although we work with other animals from time to time. We have developed scenarios for key events in the evolution of adaptive immunity, based mainly on genomic organisation and on gene co-evolution, and continue to ponder and test different ideas about the evolution of this dynamic system. As a result of working with chickens, we make discoveries that can underpin the global poultry industry, and have worked closely with several commercial organisations. Finally, because of the simplicity of the chicken MHC and associated systems, we discover phenomena and elucidate fundamental properties that have been harder to discern in the more complicated MHC of mammals.

Key Publications

Expression Levels of MHC Class I molecules are Inversely Correlated with Promiscuity of Peptide Binding. Chappell, P., Meziane, E. K., Harrison, M., Magiera, Ł., Hermann, C., Mears, L., Wrobel, A. G., Durant, C., Nielsen, L. L., Buus, S., Ternette, N., Mwangi, W., Butter, C., Nair, V., Ahyee, T., Duggleby, R., Madrigal, A., Roversi, P., Lea, S. M. and Kaufman, J. (2015)  eLIFE 4: e05345. 

Sequence of a Complete Chicken BG Haplotype Shows Dynamic Expansion and Contraction of Two Gene Lineages with Particular Expression Patterns. Salomonsen, J., Chattaway, J. A., Chan, A. C. Y., Parker, A., Huguet, S., Marston, D. A. Rogers, S. L., Wu, Z., Smith, A. L., Staines, K., Butter, C., Riegert, P., Vainio, O., Nielsen, L., Kaspers, B., Griffin, D. K., Yang, F., Zoorob, R., Guillemot, F., Auffray, C., Beck, S., Skjødt, K and Kaufman, J. (2014)  PLoS Genetics 10: e1004417. 

Reversible epigenetic down-regulation of MHC molecules by Devil Facial Tumour Disease illustrates immune escape by a contagious cancer Siddle, H. V., Kreiss, A., Tovar, C., Yuen, C. K., Cheng, Y., Belov, K., Swift, K., Pearse, A.-M., Hamede, R., Jones, M. E., Skjødt, K., Woods, G. M. and Kaufman, J. (2013) , Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110: 5103-8. 

The dominantly-expressed class I molecule of the chicken MHC is explained by co-evolution with the polymorphic peptide transporter (TAP) genes.  Walker, B. A., Hunt, L. G., Sowa, A. K., Skjødt, K., Goebel, T. W., Lehner, P. J. and Kaufman, J. (2011)  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108: 8396-8401. 

Structures of an MHC class I molecule from B21 chickens illustrate promiscuous peptide binding. Koch, M., Camp, S., Collen, T., Avila, D., Salomonsen, J., Wallny, H.-J., van Hateren, A., Hunt, L. G., Jacob, J. P., Johnston, F., Marston, D. A., Shaw, I., Dunbar, P. R., Cerundolo, V. E., Jones, E. Y. and Kaufman, J. (2007) Immunity 27: 885-899. 

 Jim Kaufman

Professor Jim Kaufman

Group members: Lei Chen, Alicia Martin Lopez, Clive Tregaskes, Dan Wise 

    Plain English

    In order to survive the continuous onslaught of microbes, all animals (including ourselves) have developed a complex and interwoven set of immune responses. These immune responses often protect us from pathogens, but can also go too far and cause diseases like autoimmunity and allergy. For the last 25 years, we have used chickens as a representative non-mammalian vertebrate, to understand the evolution of the adaptive immune system, focusing on the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which encodes molecules with central roles in the immune response. In addition to proposing how the adaptive immune system evolved, we have made contributions to the global poultry industry and to understanding fundamental properties, important for both chickens and humans.



    Wellcome Trust


    Jim is accepting PhD Student applications

    Jim is also available for consultancy