Comparative Genome Organization of the Major Histocompatibility Complex: Lessons from the Felidae
Genomes, Major histocompatibility complex, Mammals, Felidae
The mammalian major histocompability complex (MHC) has taught both immunologists and evolutionary biologists a great deal about the patterns and processes that have led to immune defenses. Driven principally by human and mouse studies, comparative MHC projects among other mammalian species offer certain advantages in connecting MHC genome characters to natural situations. We have studied the MHC in the domestic cat and in several wild species of Felidae. Our observations affirm class I and class II homology with other mammalian orders, derivative gene duplications during the Felidae radiation, abundant persistent trans-species allele polymorphism, recombination-derived amino acid motifs, and inverted ratios of non-synonymous to silent substitutions in the MHC peptide-binding regions, consistent with overdominant selection in class I and II genes. MHC diversity as quantified in population studies is a powerful barometer of historic demographic reduction for several endangered species including cheetahs, Asiatic lions, Florida panthers and tigers. In two cases (Florida panther and cheetah), reduced MHC variation may be contributing to uniform population sensitivity to emerging infectious pathogens. The Felidae species, nearly all endangered and monitored for conservation concerns, have allowed a glimpse of species adaptation, mediated by MHC divergence, using comparative inferences drawn from human and mouse models.
O'Brien, Stephen J. and Naoya Yuhki. 1999. "Comparative Genome Organization of the Major Histocompatibility Complex: Lessons from the Felidae." Immunological Reviews 167, (1): 133-144. http://nsuworks.nova.edu/cnso_bio_facarticles/653