The allotypic patchwork pattern of the rabbit IGKC1 allele b5wf: genic exchange or common ancestry?
The protein sequences of different alleles of the rabbit immunoglobulin IGKC1 gene can differ at more than 40% of the amino acid positions. This exceptional degree of allelic divergence raises questions concerning the causal underlying mechanisms. We report the DNA sequence of the coding region of an allotype which is associated with the mitochondrial lineage A (Southwestern Spain). At the serological level, this b5wf allotype presents a patchwork of antigenic determinants which in domestic breeds are characteristic of the b4, b5, and b6 allotypes. The inferred protein sequence of the b5wf allotype was found to differ from that of the b4, b5, and b6 allotypes at 25, 10, and 15% of the amino acid positions, respectively. Sequence comparisons show that the b4-specific epitopes of the b5wf allotype are probably due to a shared ThrThrGlnThr motif at Kabat positions 153–156. Similarly, the shared b5-specific determinants should relate to the motifs 161ThrSerLys163 and/or 182LysSerAspGlu185. A monoclonal antibody binding epitope shared among the b5wf, b5, and b6 sequences appeared to be correlated with the presence of Asp190. Although there is evidence of interallelic genic exchange, sequence comparisons suggest that the apparent mosaic structure of the b5wf allotype is better explained by common ancestry and point mutation.
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