Immunogenetics

, Volume 63, Issue 4, pp 223–233

Characterisation of class II B MHC genes from a ratite bird, the little spotted kiwi (Apteryx owenii)

  • Hilary C. Miller
  • Gemma Bowker-Wright
  • Marie Kharkrang
  • Kristina Ramstad
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00251-010-0503-7

Cite this article as:
Miller, H.C., Bowker-Wright, G., Kharkrang, M. et al. Immunogenetics (2011) 63: 223. doi:10.1007/s00251-010-0503-7

Abstract

Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes are important for vertebrate immune response and typically display high levels of diversity due to balancing selection from exposure to diverse pathogens. An understanding of the structure of the MHC region and diversity among functional MHC genes is critical to understanding the evolution of the MHC and species resilience to disease exposure. In this study, we characterise the structure and diversity of class II MHC genes in little spotted kiwi Apteryx owenii, a ratite bird representing the basal avian lineage (paleognaths). Results indicate that little spotted kiwi have a more complex MHC structure than that of other non-passerine birds, with at least five class II MHC genes, three of which are expressed and likely to be functional. Levels of MHC variation among little spotted kiwi are extremely low, with 13 birds assayed having nearly identical MHC genotypes (only two genotypes containing four alleles, three of which are fixed). These results suggest that recent genetic drift due to a species-wide bottleneck of at most seven birds has overwhelmed past selection for high MHC diversity in little spotted kiwi, potentially leaving the species highly susceptible to disease.

Keywords

Apteryx Avian MHC evolution MHC class II Ratite Disease resistance Genetic bottleneck effect 

Supplementary material

251_2010_503_MOESM1_ESM.doc (64 kb)
Figure S1Alignment of MHC class II B genomic DNA sequences from little spotted kiwi. The region spanning exons 1–2 was amplified with primers BRMHC05 + BirdMHC2Ex2R (no products were produced for ApowDAB*01, 04, 06 and 07), and exons 2–3 was amplified using primers BirdMHC2Ex2F + AlEx3R. Exons are shown by the bars under the sequence. Shading indicates identity. The C–T substitution at position 1022 in ApowDAB*04, which results in the insertion of a stop codon in this sequence, is marked with an asterisk (DOC 64 kb)
251_2010_503_MOESM2_ESM.doc (42 kb)
Table S1MHC genotypes of little spotted kiwi from Long and Kapiti Islands (DOC 41 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hilary C. Miller
    • 1
  • Gemma Bowker-Wright
    • 1
  • Marie Kharkrang
    • 1
  • Kristina Ramstad
    • 1
  1. 1.Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, School of Biological SciencesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations