The origin of the primate mhc-DRB genes and allelic lineages as deduced from the study of prosimians

Felipe Figueroa, Colm O'hUigin, Herbert Tichy, Jan Klein

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MHC class II genes of the DRB family were partially sequenced from 10 individuals representing six species of prosimians: Galago senegalensis, G. moholi, Otolemur garnettii, Loris tardigradus, Petterus (Lemur) fulvus, and Lemur catta. Altogether, 41 different genes were discerned, all distinct from genes identified previously. Comparative analysis of the sequences has led to the following conclusions. First, the DRB loci present in human populations diverged from one another before the divergence of prosimian and anthropoid primates. Second, major allelic lineages of the DRB1 locus, such as DRB1*03 (DRB1*13) and DRB1*04, were established more than 85 million years ago. Third, the DRB6 gene was inactivated before the separation of prosimians and anthropoids, and has remained a pseudogene for more than 85 million years. Fourth, the primate DRB region is structurally and functionally unstable. In Lemur catta, for example, all DRB genes have apparently been lost and their function taken over by DOB and/or DPB genes. DRB genes are, however, present in a related species, Petterus (Lemur) fulvus. Fifth, the prosimian DRB3 genes are all inactive; their function seems to have been taken over by new genes. Sixth, several of the prosimian DRB genes and pseudogenes have recently been duplicated. In Otolemur garnetti, for example, one chromosome carries at least three copies of the DRB3 pseudogene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4455-4465
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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