, Volume 58, Issue 10, pp 805-816
Date: 05 Oct 2006

Molecular study of Mhc-DRB in wild chacma baboons reveals high variability and evidence for trans-species inheritance

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The MHC class II genes of many primate species were investigated extensively in recent years. However, while Mhc-DRB genes were studied in Old World monkeys such as rhesus macaques, the Mhc-DRB of baboons was only studied in a limited way. Because of their close anatomical and physiological relationship to humans, baboons are often used as models for reproduction and transplantation research. Baboons are also studied as a model species in behavioural ecology. Thus, identification of MHC genes would provide a foundation for studies of Mhc, biology and behaviour. Here, we describe the use of PCR, cloning, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and sequencing to identify Mhc-DRB sequences in wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus). We amplified the highly variable second exon of baboon Mhc-DRB sequences using generic DRB primers. To validate and optimize the DGGE protocol, four DNA samples were initially studied using cloning and sequencing. Clones were screened using a novel RFLP approach to increase the number of clones identified for each individual. Results from cloning and sequencing were used to optimise DGGE conditions for Mhc-DRB genotyping of the remaining study subjects. Using these techniques, we identified 16 Paur-DRB sequences from 30 chacma baboons. On the basis of phylogenetic tree analyses, representatives of the Mhc-DRB1 and Mhc-DRB5 loci, and 13 different DRB lineages were identified. Evidence for trans-species inheritance of some Mhc-DRB sequences comes from high identity between the new Paur-DRB sequences and sequences from Papio cynocephalus, Macaca mulatta and possibly Galago moholi.

Nucleotide sequence data reported are available in the GenBank/EMBL/DDBJ databases under the accession numbers DQ339722–DQ339737.