Evidence for insertion of a new intron into an Mhc gene of perch-like fish

F. Figueroa, H. Ono, H. Tichy, C. O'Huigin, J. Klein

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27 Scopus citations


The evolution of the major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) has been studied to understand the origin of the immune system, of which it constitutes an essential part. In the present study, the Mhc is used to shed light on questions regarding the origin of introns and the phylogeny of fishes. The organization of the coding (exon) and non-coding (intron) regions of both class I and class II major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) genes is highly conserved in all vertebrate classes; the only variation observed until now is in the number of exons encoding the membrane-anchoring part. Moreover, there is a good correspondence between the exon-intron organization at the DNA level and the division into structurally and functionally defined domains at the protein level. Here we describe the first major exception to this uniformity. The immunoglobulin-like domain of the class II P-chains in perch-like fishes (Percomorpha) is not encoded in one exon, as it is in all other vertebrates studied thus far, but in two exons. The length of the extra intron varies from gene to gene and from species to species, but is generally less than 200 base pairs (b.p.). Only one of the sequenced introns is about 500 b.p. long. In some of the genes, the intron contains a hexamer repeat. The repeat is present in the transcript at the site at which the intron interrupts exon 3 in the genomic DNA. The intron may therefore have arisen by repeated tandem duplication of this sequence. The intron is present in representatives of the Percomorpha and Atherinomorpha (silverside-like fishes) and absent in non-acanthopterygian fishes (and other vertebrates) tested thus far. The intron's distribution supports the monophyly of the Acanthopterigii (ray-finned fishes). In the perchlike fishes, the intron is present in different class II B loci, supporting the notion that these loci originated by repeated duplications from a single ancestral gene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-330
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1356
StatePublished - 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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