The MHC class I genes of the rhesus monkey: Different evolutionary histories of MHC class I and II genes in primates

Jonathan E. Boyson, Clare Shufflebotham, Luis F. Cadavid, Julie A. Urvater, Leslie A. Knapp, Austin L. Hughes, David I. Watkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


Homologues of the human HLA-A and -B MHC class I loci have been found in great apes and Old World primates suggesting that these two loci have existed for at least 30 million years. The C locus, however, shows some sequence similarity to the B locus and has been found only in gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans. To determine the age of the MHC class I C locus and to examine the evolution of the A and B loci we have cloned, sequenced, and in vitro translated 16 MHC class I cDNAs from two unrelated rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) using both cDNA library screening and PCR amplification. Analyses of these sequences suggest that the C locus is not present in the rhesus monkey, indicating that this locus may be of recent origin in gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans. The rhesus monkey's complement of MHC class I genes includes the products of at least one expressed A locus and at least two expressed B loci, indicating that a duplication of the B locus has taken place in the lineage leading to these Old World primates. Comparison of rhesus monkey MHC class I cDNAs to their primate counterparts reveals fundamental differences between MHC class I and class II evolution in primates. Although MHC class II allelic lineages are shared between humans and Old World primates, no such trans- species sharing of allelic lineages is seen at the MHC class I loci.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4656-4665
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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