Primate DRB genes from the DR3 and DR8 haplotypes contain ERV9 LTR elements at identical positions
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- Svensson, AC., Setterblad, N., Sigurdardóttir, S. et al. Immunogenetics (1995) 41: 74. doi:10.1007/BF00182316
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The HLA-DRB genes of the human major histocompatibility complex constitute a multigene family with a varying number of DRB genes in different haplotypes. To gain further knowledge concerning the evolutionary relationship, the complete nucleotide sequence was determined for a region spanning introns 4 and 5 of the three DRB genes (DRB1*0301, DRB2 and DRB3*0101) from a DR52 haplotype and the single DRB gene (DRB1*08021) in the DR8 haplotype. These analyses identified an endogenous retroviral long terminal repeat element (ERV9 LTR3), inserted at identical positions in intron 5 of the functional DRB genes in these two haplotypes. Comparison of the nucleotide sequence from introns 4 and 5 including the ERV9 LTR elements revealed a strong similarity between the three expressed DRB genes. The DRB3*0101 and DRB1*08021 genes were most similar in this comparison. These findings provide further evidence for a separate duplication in a primordial DR52 haplotype followed by a gene contraction event in the DR8 haplotype. A homologous element was found in a chimpanzee DRB gene from a DR52 haplotype. This represents the first characterized ERV9 LTR element in a nonhuman species. The corresponding introns of the DRB genes in the DR4 haplotype contain no ERV9 LTRs. In contrast, these genes have insertions of distinct Alu repeats, implying distinct evolutionary histories of DR52 and DR53 haplotypes, respectively. Phylogenetic analyses of DRB introns from DR52, DR53, and DR8 haplotypes showed a close relationship between the DRB2 and DRB4 genes. Thus, the ancestral DR haplotype that evolved to generate the DR52 and DR53 haplotypes most likely shared a primordial common DRB gene.