Evolutionary instability of the major histocompatibility complex class I loci in New World primates

Luis F. Cadavid, Clare Shufflebotham, Francisco J. Ruiz, Meredith Yeager, Austin L. Hughes, David I. Watkins

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66 Scopus citations


Homologues of the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) HLA-A, - B, -E, -F, and -G loci are present in all the Catarrhini (Old World primates, apes, and humans), and some of their allelic lineages have survived several speciation events. Analysis of 26 MHC class I cDNAs from seven different genera of New World primates revealed that the Callitrichinae (tamarins and marmosets) are an exception of these rules of MHC stability. In gene trees of primate MHC class I genes, sequences from the Callitrichinae cluster in a genus-specific fashion, whereas in the other genera of New World primates, as in the Catarrhini, they cluster in a transgeneric way. The genus-specific clustering of the Callitrichinae cDNAs indicates that there is no orthology between MHC class I loci in genera of this phyletic group. Additionally, the Callitrichinae genera exhibit limited variability of their MHC class I genes, in contrast to the high variability displayed by all other primates. Each Callitrichinae genus, therefore, expresses its own set of MHC class I genes, suggesting that an unusually high rate of turnover of loci occurs in this subfamily. The limited variability of MHC class I genes in the Callitrichinae is likely the result of the recent origin of these loci.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14536-14541
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 23 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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