, Volume 57, Issue 1–2, pp 108–115 | Cite as

Recombination and the origin of sequence diversity in the DRB MHC class II locus in chamois (Rupicapra spp.)

  • Helmut SchaschlEmail author
  • Franz Suchentrunk
  • Sabine Hammer
  • Simon J. Goodman
Original Paper


We examined the evolutionary processes contributing to genetic diversity at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II DRB locus in chamois (Rupicapra spp., subfamily Caprinae). We characterised the pattern of intragenic recombination (or homologous gene conversion) and quantified the amount of recombination in the genealogical history of the two chamois species, Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica) and Alpine chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra). We found evidence for intragenic recombination, and the estimated amount of population recombination suggests that recombination has been a significant process in generating DRB allelic diversity in the genealogical history of the genus Rupicapra. Moreover, positive selection appears to act on the same peptide-binding residues in both analysed chamois species, but not in identical intensity. Recombination coupled with positive selection drives the rapid evolution at the peptide-binding sites in the MHC class II DRB gene. Many chamois MHC class II DRB alleles are thus much younger than previously assumed.


MHC class II diversity Chamois Recombination Allelic polymorphism 



We would like to thank TBH Reusch from the Max-Planck Institute of Limnology for helpful comments on a previous version of this manuscript and A Hasselmeyer for assistance in sequencing.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helmut Schaschl
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Franz Suchentrunk
    • 2
  • Sabine Hammer
    • 3
  • Simon J. Goodman
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyZoological Society of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Research Institute of Wildlife EcologyUniversity of Veterinary Medicine ViennaViennaAustria
  3. 3.Laboratories of Genome DynamicsMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria
  4. 4.Department of Evolutionary EcologyMax-Planck-Institute of LimnologyPloenGermany

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