, Volume 57, Issue 1-2, pp 108-115

Recombination and the origin of sequence diversity in the DRB MHC class II locus in chamois (Rupicapra spp.)

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Abstract

We examined the evolutionary processes contributing to genetic diversity at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II DRB locus in chamois (Rupicapra spp., subfamily Caprinae). We characterised the pattern of intragenic recombination (or homologous gene conversion) and quantified the amount of recombination in the genealogical history of the two chamois species, Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica) and Alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra). We found evidence for intragenic recombination, and the estimated amount of population recombination suggests that recombination has been a significant process in generating DRB allelic diversity in the genealogical history of the genus Rupicapra. Moreover, positive selection appears to act on the same peptide-binding residues in both analysed chamois species, but not in identical intensity. Recombination coupled with positive selection drives the rapid evolution at the peptide-binding sites in the MHC class II DRB gene. Many chamois MHC class II DRB alleles are thus much younger than previously assumed.