Unparalleled complexity of the MHC class I region in rhesus macaques

Nel Otting, Corrine M.C. Heijmans, Riet C. Noort, Natasja G. De Groot, Gaby G.M. Doxiadis, Jon J. Van Rood, David I. Watkins, Ronald E. Bontrop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

177 Scopus citations


The highly polymorphic gene products of the classical MHC class I genes in humans (HLA-A, HLA-B, and HLA-C) play a critical role in the immune defense against intracellular infections. Because non-human primates are important models for AIDS vaccine research, rhesus monkeys from a thoroughly pedigreed and serotyped colony were subjected to full-length cDNA analysis of MHC class I gene transcripts. Rhesus macaques express multiple dominant Mamu-A and Mamu-B transcripts (majors) per chromosome, which are characterized by high expression levels. The presence of additional cDNAs with low levels of expression (minors) suggests evidence for transcriptional control of MHC class I genes. Moreover, phylogenetic analyses illustrate that most of the Mamu-A and Mamu-B loci/lineages identified display no or only limited levels of allelic polymorphism. Thus, MHC class I diversity in rhesus macaques is typified by the existence of an unmatched high number of Mamu-A and Mamu-B region configurations that exhibit polymorphism with regard to the number and combination of transcribed loci present per chromosome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1626-1631
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • AIDS
  • Non-human primate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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