, Volume 49, Issue 5, pp 429-437

Characterization of Mhc-DRB allelic diversity in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) provides insight into Mhc-DRB allelic evolution within Cervidae

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 Although white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are one of North America's best studied mammals, no information is available concerning allelic diversity at any locus of the major histocompatibility complex in this taxon. Using the polymerase chain reaction, single-stranded conformation polymorphism analysis, and DNA sequencing techniques, 15 DRB exon 2 alleles were identified among 150 white-tailed deer from a single population in southeastern Oklahoma. These alleles represent a single locus and exhibit a high degree of nucleotide and amino acid polymorphism, with most amino acid variation occurring at positions forming the peptide binding sites. Furthermore, twenty-seven amino acid residues unique to white-tailed deer DRB alleles were detected, with 19 of these occurring at residues forming contact points of the peptide binding region. Significantly higher rates of nonsynonymous than synonymous substitutions were detected among these DRB alleles. In contrast to other studies of Artiodactyla DRB sequences, interallelic recombination does not appear to be playing a significant role in the generation of allelic diversity at this locus in white-tailed deer. To examine evolution of white-tailed deer (Odvi-DRB) alleles within Cervidae, we performed a phylogenetic analysis of all published red deer (Ceel-DRB), roe deer (Caca-DRB), and moose (Alal-DRB) DRB alleles. The phylogenetic tree clearly shows a trans-species persistence of DRB lineages among these taxa. Moreover, this phylogenetic tree provides insight into evolution of DRB allelic lineages within Cervidae and may aid in assignment of red deer DRB alleles to specific loci.

Received: 25 June 1998 / Revised: 2 September 1998