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Isolation and characterization of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II B genes in the Barn owl (Aves: Tyto alba)

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Abstract

We isolated major histocompatibility complex class II B (MHCIIB) genes in the Barn owl (Tyto alba). A PCR-based approach combined with primer walking on genomic and complementary DNA as well as Southern blot analyses revealed the presence of two MHCIIB genes, both being expressed in spleen, liver, and blood. Characteristic structural features of MHCIIB genes as well as their expression and high non-synonymous substitution rates in the region involved in antigen binding suggest that both genes are functional. MHC organization in the Barn owl is simple compared to passerine species that show multiple duplications, and resembles the minimal essential MHC of chicken.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Catherine Berney for technical assistance in the lab, Anne-Lyse Ducrest for helpful discussions, Philippe Christe for providing samples, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. The study was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation grants 3100A0-109852/1 to LF and PP00A-102913 to AR.

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Correspondence to Reto Burri.

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Data deposition: Nucleotide sequence data reported in this paper have been deposited in the GenBank database and have accession numbers EU442602–EU442607.

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Figure S1

Nucleotide sequence alignment of Barn owl the genomic MHCIIB sequences with sequences of Strigidae and Accipitridae (Alcaide et al. 2007), Humboldt’s penguin (Spheniscus humboldti, accession no. AB154394) and Great snipe (Gallinago media, accession no. AF485404) (Ekblom et al. 2003). The black bar highlights exons, the grey bar the introns. (JPEG 44.4 MB)

Table S1

Primers used in primer walking on genomic and complementary DNA. (29.5 KB)

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Burri, R., Niculita-Hirzel, H., Roulin, A. et al. Isolation and characterization of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II B genes in the Barn owl (Aves: Tyto alba). Immunogenetics 60, 543–550 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00251-008-0308-0

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