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Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II polymorphism and paternity in the monogamous Hypogeomys antimena, the endangered, largest endemic Malagasy rodent



Sequence variation at a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II gene was examined in Hypogeomys antimena, a monogamous endemic rodent of Madagascar. The study was conducted throughout its remaining geographical range (20 × 40 km) by direct sequencing and single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP). The objectives of the study were: (i) to investigate levels of polymorphism in the MHC complex of a highly endangered species that experienced a severe reduction in population size; and (ii) to investigate the genetic mating system by assessing the frequency of extra-pair paternity (EPP) as EPP might have important consequences to increase gene flow and, therefore, genetic variability within a population. The amplified gene segment had a very low variability (only two alleles) in H. antimena compared with other mammalian species. The alleles segregated consistently with Mendelian expectations in families. No case of EPP was found. The present data suggest no difference between the social and the genetic mating system.