Molecular cloning of orangutan and gibbon MHC class I cDNA: The HLA-A and -B loci diverged over 30 million years ago

Z. W. Chen, S. N. McAdam, A. L. Hughes, A. L. Dogon, N. L. Letvin, D. I. Watkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations


To investigate whether the classical HLA MHC class I loci have been preserved during evolution of the primates, we have cloned, sequenced, and expressed eight MHC class I cDNA from orangutan and gibbon lymphocytes. Both the HLA-A and -B loci are present in both of these species. In fact, lymphocytes from the orangutan expressed three HLA-B-related gene products, suggesting that the ancestral homologue of the HLA-B locus had undergone a duplication in this species. Interestingly, several amino acid motifs thought to be important in the Ag-presenting function of MHC class I molecules were preserved in the Ag-recognition sites of the orangutan and gibbon MHC class I molecules. Finally, these findings suggest that the recombination event between the HLA-A and -E loci occurred over 38 million years ago. These data indicate that the HLA-A and -B loci are extremely stable and that recombination between them is rare. Furthermore, the data presented here argue against the role of concerted evolution in the evolution of primate MHC class I molecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2547-2554
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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