Many species are threatened with extinction as their population sizes decrease with changing environments or face novel pathogenic threats. A reduction of genetic diversity at major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes may have dramatic effects on populations' survival, as these genes play a key role in adaptive immunity. This might be the case for chimpanzees, the MHC genes of which reveal signatures of an ancient selective sweep likely due to a viral epidemic that reduced their population size a few million years ago. To better assess how this past event affected MHC variation in chimpanzees compared to humans, we analysed several indexes of genetic diversity and linkage disequilibrium across seven MHC genes on four cohorts of chimpanzees and we compared them to those estimated at orthologous HLA genes in a large set of human populations.
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