Major-histocompatibility-complex DRB genes of a new-world monkey, the cottontop tamarin (Saguinus oedipus)

Blazenka Grahovac, Werner E. Mayer, Vladimir Vincek, Felipe Figueroa, Colm O'hUigin, Herbert Tichy, Jan Klein

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18 Scopus citations


The DRB region of the human and great-ape major histocompatibility complex displays not only gene but also haplotype polymorphism. The number of genes in the human DRB region can vary from one to four, and even greater variability exists among the DRB haplotypes of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. Accumulating evidence indicates that, like gene polymorphism, part of the haplotype polymorphism predates speciation. In an effort to determine when the gene haplotype polymorphisms emerged in the primate lineage, we sequenced three cDNA clones of the New-World monkey, the cottontop tamarin (Saguinus oedipus). We could identify two DRB loci in this species, one (Saoe-DRBl) occupied by apparently functional alleles (*0101 and *0/02) which differ by only two nucleotide substitutions and the other (Saoe-DRB2) occupied by an apparent pseudogene. The SaoeDRB2 gene contains an extra sequence derived from the 3′ portion of exon 2 and placed 5 prime; to this exon. This sequence contains a stop codon which makes the translation of the bulk of the Saoe-DRB2 gene unlikely. Preliminary Southern blot hybridization analysis with probes derived from these two genes suggests that both the DRB gene polymorphism and the haplotype polymorphism in the cottontop tamarin may be low. In most individuals the DRB region of this species probably consists of three genes. Comparisons of the Saoe-DRB sequences with those of other primates suggest that probably all of the DRB genes found until now in the Catarrhini were derived from a common ancestor after the separation of the Catarrhini and Platyrrhini lineages. The extant DRB gene and haplotype polymorphism may therefore have been founded in the mid-Oligocene some 33 Mya.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-416
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular biology and evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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