Immunoglobulin heavy chain diversity in Pteropid bats: evidence for a diverse and highly specific antigen binding repertoire
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- Baker, M.L., Tachedjian, M. & Wang, LF. Immunogenetics (2010) 62: 173. doi:10.1007/s00251-010-0425-4
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Bats are the natural host reservoir for range of emerging and re-emerging viruses, many of which cause significant morbidity and mortality in other mammals, yet appear to result in no clinical consequences for bats. The ability of bats to coexist with a variety of viruses presents an interesting immunological problem that has not been examined in any detail but which could provide significant insights into the evolution of antiviral mechanisms in mammals. Towards a better understanding of the bat immune system, we analysed the expressed heavy chain variable (VH) regions of antibodies from the black flying fox, Pteropus alecto. The germline repertoire of the closely related Pteropid bat, Pteropus vampyrus, whose genome has been sequenced was also examined for comparative purposes. Representative VH genes were found in all three mammalian VH clans (I, II and III) in both the expressed P. alecto VH repertoire and the germline P. vampyrus VH repertoire. Evidence for the use of multiple heavy chain diversity (DH) and joining (JH) segments for the generation of diverse VDJ rearrangements was also present in the expressed antibody repertoire of P. alecto. The long period of co-evolutionary history of bats with viruses may have resulted in a variety of highly specific VH segments being hardwired into the genomes of bats and may have implications for their ability to successfully cope with a diversity of viral antigens.