, Volume 64, Issue 4, pp 279–287 | Cite as

The IgE gene in primates exhibits extraordinary evolutionary diversity

  • Pheidias C. Wu
  • Jiun-Bo Chen
  • Shoji Kawamura
  • Christian Roos
  • Stefan Merker
  • Chih-Chin Shih
  • Ban-Dar Hsu
  • Carmay Lim
  • Tse Wen ChangEmail author
Original Paper


Membrane-bound IgE (mIgE) on B lymphocytes is essential for IgE production. Earlier studies showed that the ε chain of mIgE (mε) on human B cells has a “long” isoform, with an extra “CεmX” domain of 52 amino acid (aa) residues between the CH4 domain and the membrane-anchor segment, as compared to the conventional “short” isoform. Because CεmX provides an antigenic site for targeting IgE-expressing B cells to down-regulate IgE production in patients with allergy, analysis of CεmX in various animals is of great interest. Hence, we analyzed the ε Ig gene, in particular, its membrane exon regions encoding the membrane anchor peptide segment and CεmX domain, of 26 species of the order Primates and 12 species of seven non-Primate orders using data obtained experimentally or retrieved from GenBank. Our analyses reveal the unexpected finding that the genes of three extant tarsier species do not contain the membrane exons for mIgE. Another striking finding is that early evolved Strepsirhini primates such as lemurs and lorises do not have gene segments for the long isoform, whereas New World monkeys such as marmosets and squirrel monkeys allow the transcription of only the long isoform. In Old World monkeys and apes, including humans, the ε gene allows the transcription of both isoforms. This work thus reveals the dramatic differences in the gene segment encoding the mε C terminal region among the four major primate lineages: the Strepsirhini primates, the tarsiers, New World monkeys, and Old World monkeys and apes/humans.


Membrane-bound IgE ε Immunoglobulin gene Membrane exons Primates Tarsiers Diversity 



This work is supported by a grant, NSC99-2320-B-001-006-MY3, from the National Science Council, Taiwan. We thank Dr. George Perry of Arizona State University for the gift of DNA samples from two aye-ayes and Dr. Harry Wilson for editing the manuscript.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no financial conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

251_2011_586_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (63 kb)
Supplementary Table S1 GenBank entries and sequences of IGHE gene specific primer (PDF 62 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pheidias C. Wu
    • 1
    • 6
  • Jiun-Bo Chen
    • 1
  • Shoji Kawamura
    • 2
  • Christian Roos
    • 3
  • Stefan Merker
    • 4
  • Chih-Chin Shih
    • 5
  • Ban-Dar Hsu
    • 6
  • Carmay Lim
    • 7
  • Tse Wen Chang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Genomics Research Center, Academia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Frontier Sciencesthe University of TokyoChibaJapan
  3. 3.Gene Bank of Primates and Primate Genetics LaboratoryGerman Primate CenterGöttingenGermany
  4. 4.Department of Ecology and EvolutionGoethe University FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany
  5. 5.Animal DivisionTaipei ZooTaipeiTaiwan
  6. 6.Institute of Bioinformatics and Structural BiologyNational Tsing Hua UniversityFrankfurt am MainTaiwan
  7. 7.Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, NankangTaipeiTaiwan

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