Non-neutral evolution of the major histocompatibility complex class II gene DRB1 in the sac-winged bat Saccopteryx bilineata

Mayer, F.; Brunner, A.
September 2007
Heredity;Sep2007, Vol. 99 Issue 3, p257
Academic Journal
The immune genes of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) are classical examples for high levels of genetic diversity and non-neutral evolution. This is particularly true for the regions containing the antigen-binding sites as, for instance, in the exon 2 of the MHC class II gene DRB. We surveyed, for the first time in the order Chiroptera, the genetic diversity within this exon in the sac-winged bat Saccopteryx bilineata. We detected 11 alleles among 85 bats, of which 79 were sampled in one population. Pairwise comparisons revealed that interallelic sequence differences ranged between 3 and 22%, although nucleotide substitutions were not evenly distributed along the exon sequence. This was most probably the result of intragenic recombination. High levels of sequence divergence and significantly more nonsynonymous than synonymous substitutions (dN/dS>1) suggest long-term balancing selection. Thus, the data are consistent with the hypothesis that recombination gives rise to new alleles at the DRB locus of the sac-winged bat, and these are maintained in the population through balancing selection. In this respect, the sac-winged bat closely resembles other mammalian species.Heredity (2007) 99, 257–264; doi:10.1038/sj.hdy.6800989; published online 23 May 2007


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