, Volume 59, Issue 6, pp 479-491

Molecular characterization of MHC class II in a nonmodel anuran species, the fire-bellied toad Bombina bombina

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Abstract

While the anuran Xenopus comprises one of the best characterized nonmammalian taxa regarding the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), the organization of this gene complex has never been studied in other anurans, and information on amphibian MHC (other than Xenopus) is generally very scarce. Here, we describe the characterization of the first MHC class II B cDNA sequences from a nonmodel anuran species, the European fire-bellied toad (Bombina bombina). We isolated two transcript sequences differing substantially in amino acid composition and length within the β2 domain. To investigate the variability of the peptide binding region in this species, we sequenced a 158-bp large fragment from wild B. bombina (n = 20) and identified eight distinct alleles. All substitutions but one were nonsynonymous, and many of the highly polymorphic sites corresponded with amino acid positions known to be involved in antigen binding. The level of variation we found in B. bombina was similar compared to that previously found in a comparable sample of a wild urodelan species, Ambystoma tigrinum, and to that found in Xenopus laevis. Based on the cDNA data and the individual’s allelic diversity, we conclude that Bombina possesses at least two class II B loci. With our new β1 primers, we were able to generate sequences in other species of anurans. We provide here a first phylogenetic analysis of this gene in amphibians.

Nucleotide sequence data reported are available in the GenBank database under accession numbers: EF210736 – EF210774.