In filamentous fungi, the ability to form a productive heterokaryon with a genetically dissimilar individual is controlled by specific loci termed het loci. Only strains homoxygous for all het loci can establish a heterokaryon. In Neurospora crassa, 11 loci, including the mating-type locus, regulate the capacity to form heterokaryons. An allele of the het-c locus (het-c(OR)) of N. crassa has been previously characterized and encodes a nonessential 966 amino acid glycine-rich protein. Herein, we describe the genetic and molecular characterization of two het-c alleles, het-c(PA) and het-c(GR), that have a different specificity from that of het-c(OR), showing that vegetative incompatibility is mediated by multiple alleles at het-c. By constructing chimeric alleles, we show that het-c specificity is determined by a highly variable domain of 34-48 amino acids in length, In this regard, het-c is similar to loci that regulate recognition in other species, such as the (S) self-incompatibility locus in plants, the sexual compatibility locus in basidiomycetes and the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes in vertebrates.
Saupe, S. J., & Glass, N. L. (1997). Allelic specificity at the het-c heterokaryon incompatibility locus of Neurospora crassa is determined by a highly variable domain. Genetics, 146(4), 1299–1309.