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Cambridge Immunology Network


University of Edinburgh

School of Biological Sciences, Institute for Immunology and Infection Research


I am interested in the evolution of immunity, focusing on the chicken MHC.

Among our discoveries are the

1. existence of single dominantly-expressed chicken class I and class II molecules which determine the immune response to pathogens and vaccines,

2. importance of co-evolution between polymorphic genes that lead to the expression of a single class I molecule, and

3. presence of lectin-like (NK) receptor and CD1 genes suggesting they were present in the primordial MHC.

I continue to explore the

1. roles of chicken MHC molecules in resistance to pathogens and response to vaccines,

2. roles of polymorphism and co-evolution for MHC genes involved in antigen presentation, and

3. ramifications of our findings for the evolutionary history of the MHC.

My long-term plans include whole genome studies in chickens, development of chickens as a system with a smooth transition between field and laboratory for study of natural pathogens in a natural host, and work on other vertebrates.


Key publications: 

1.      Kaufman J, Milne S, Göbel TW, Walker BA, Jacob JP, Auffray C, Zoorob R, Beck S. 1999. The chicken B locus is a minimal essential major histocompatibility complex. Nature 401:923-5.

2.      Salomonsen J, Sorenson MR, Marston DA, Rogers SA, Collen T, van Hateren A, Smith AL, Beal RK, Skjødt K, Kaufman J. 2005. From the cover: Two CD1 genes map to the chicken MHC, indicating that CD1 genes are ancient and likely to have been present in the primordial MHC. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 102: 8668-8673.

3.      Wallny HJ, Avila D, Hunt LG, Powell TJ, Riegert P, Salomonsen J, Skjødt K, Vainio O, Vilbois F, Wiles MV, Kaufman J. 2006. Peptide motifs of the single dominantly expressed class I molecule explain the striking MHC-determined response to Rous sarcoma virus in chickens. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103:1434-9.

4.      Koch M, Camp S, Collen T, Avila D, Salomonsen J, Wallny HJ, van Hateren A, Hunt L, Jacob JP, Johnston F, Marston DA, Shaw I, Dunbar PR, Cerundolo V, Jones EY, Kaufman J. 2007. Structures of an MHC class I molecule from B21 chickens illustrate promiscuous peptide binding. Immunity 27:885-99.

5.      Walker B., Hunt LG, Sowa AK, Skjødt K, Gobel TW, Lehner PJ, Kaufman J. 2011. The dominantly-expressed class I molecule of the chicken MHC is explained by co-evolution with the polymorphic peptide transporter (TAP) genes. Proc Natl Acad Sc. USA 108: 8396-8401.

6.      Salomonsen J, Chattaway JA, Chan AC, Parker A, Huguet S, Marston DA, Rogers SL, Wu Z, Smith AL, Staines K, Butter C, Riegert P, Vainio O, Nielsen L, Kaspers B, Griffin DK, Yang F, Zoorob R, Guillemot F, Auffray C, Beck S, Skjødt K, Kaufman J. 2014. Sequence of a complete chicken BG haplotype shows dynamic expansion and contraction of two gene lineages with particular expression patterns. PLoS Genet 10:e1004417.

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

8.      Chappell P, Meziane el K, Harrison M, Magiera Å, Hermann C, Mears L, Wrobel AG, Durant C, Nielsen LL, Buus S, Ternette N, Mwangi W, Butter C, Nair V, Ahyee T, Duggleby R, Madrigal A, Roversi P, Lea SM, Kaufman J. 2015. Expression levels of MHC class I molecules are inversely correlated with promiscuity of peptide binding. Elife 4:e05345.

9.      Kaufman J. 2018. Generalists and Specialists: A new view of how MHC class I molecules fight infectious pathogens. Trends Immunol 39:367-379.

10.   Kaufman J. 2018. Unfinished business: evolution of the adaptive immune system of jawed vertebrates. Annu. Rev. Immunol. 36:383-409.

11.   Potts ND, Bichet C, Merat L, Guitton E, Krupa AP, Burke TA , Kennedy LJ, Sorci G, Kaufman J. 2019. Development and optimization of a hybridization technique to type the classical class I and class II B genes of the chicken MHC. Immunogenetics 71:647-663.

12.   Afrache H, Tregaskes CA, Kaufman J. 2019. A potential nomenclature for the Immuno Polymorphism Database (IPD) of chicken MHC genes: progress and problems. Immunogenetics, published on-line.


Professor Jim  Kaufman
Takes PhD students
Not available for consultancy


Collaborator profiles: 
Person keywords: 
comparative immunology
natural killer cells
antigen presentation
helper T cells
T cell receptor (TCR)
antigen processing
cytotoxic T cells (CTL)
T cells
expression level
animal models
gamma delta T cells
natural killer receptors
protein structure/folding