Immunogenetics

, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 313–327 | Cite as

MHC class II genes in the European badger (Meles meles): characterization, patterns of variation, and transcription analysis

  • Yung Wa Sin
  • Hannah L. Dugdale
  • Chris Newman
  • David W. Macdonald
  • Terry Burke
Original Paper

Abstract

The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) comprises many genes, some of which are polymorphic with numerous alleles. Sequence variation among alleles is most pronounced in exon 2 of the class II genes, which encodes the α1 and β1 domains that form the antigen-binding site (ABS) for the presentation of peptides. The MHC thus plays an important role in pathogen defense. European badgers (Meles meles) are a good species in which to study the MHC, as they harbor a variety of pathogens. We present the first characterization of MHC class II genes, isolated from genomic DNA (gDNA) and complementary DNA (cDNA), in the European badger. Examination of seven individuals revealed four DRB, two DQB, two DQA, and two DRA putatively functional gDNA sequences. All of these sequences, except DRA, exhibited high variability in exon 2; DRB had the highest variability. The ABS codons demonstrated high variability, due potentially to balancing selection, while non-ABS codons had lower variability. Positively selected sites were detected in DRB and DQA. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated trans-species polymorphism of class II genes. Comparison with cDNA from whole blood revealed that only DRB had a transcription pattern reflecting the alleles that were present in the gDNA, while the other three genes had disparities between gDNA and cDNA. Only one sequence was transcribed, even though two gDNA sequences were present, from each of both DQB and DRA. Our characterization of badger MHC sequences forms a basis for further studies of MHC variability, mate choice, and pathogen resistance in this, and other, species.

Keywords

Balancing selection DRB gene Immunogenetics Mustelid Pathogen resistance Trans-species polymorphism 

Supplementary material

251_2011_578_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (141 kb)
ESM 1(PDF 141 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yung Wa Sin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hannah L. Dugdale
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Chris Newman
    • 1
  • David W. Macdonald
    • 1
  • Terry Burke
    • 2
  1. 1.Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of ZoologyUniversity of Oxford, Recanati-Kaplan CentreAbingdonUK
  2. 2.Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Biomolecular Analysis Facility, Department of Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  3. 3.Behavioural Ecology and Self-OrganizationUniversity of GroningenGroningenNetherlands
  4. 4.Theoretical BiologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenNetherlands

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