Sequence diversity of the MHC DRB gene in the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber)

Authors


J. Radwan, Fax: +48 12 664 69 12; E-mail: radwan@eko.uj.edu.pl

Abstract

Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, coding molecules which play an important role in immune response, are the most polymorphic genes known in vertebrates. However, MHC polymorphism in some species is limited. MHC monomorphism at several MHC class I and II loci was previously reported for two neighbouring northern European populations of the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) and reduced selection for polymorphism has been hypothesized. Here, we analysed a partial sequence of the second exon of the MHC II DRB locus from seven relict European and Asian beaver populations. We detected 10 unique alleles among 76 beavers analysed. Only a western Siberian population was polymorphic, with four alleles detected in 10 individuals. Each of the remaining populations was fixed for a different allele. Sequences showed considerable divergence, suggesting the long persistence of allelic lineages. A significant excess of nonsynonymous substitutions was detected at the antigen binding sites, indicating that sequence evolution of beaver DRB was driven by positive selection. Current MHC monomorphism in the majority of populations may be the result of the superimposition of the recent bottleneck on pre-existing genetic structure resulting from population subdivision and differential pathogen pressure.

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