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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Sep 3;99(18):11748-53. Epub 2002 Aug 19.

Evidence for an ancient selective sweep in the MHC class I gene repertoire of chimpanzees.

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  • 1Department of Immunobiology, Biomedical Primate Research Centre, P.O. Box 3306, 2280 GH, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.

Abstract

MHC class I molecules play an essential role in the immune defense against intracellular infections. The hallmark of the MHC is its extensive degree of polymorphism at the population level. However, the present comparison of MHC class I gene intron variation revealed that chimpanzees have experienced a severe repertoire reduction at the orthologues of the HLA-A, -B, and -C loci. The loss of variability predates the (sub)speciation of chimpanzees and did not effect other known gene systems. Therefore the selective sweep in the MHC class I gene may have resulted from a widespread viral infection. Based on the present results and the fact that chimpanzees have a natural resistance to the development of AIDS, we hypothesize that the selective sweep was caused by the chimpanzee-derived simian immunodeficiency virus (SIVcpz), the closest relative of HIV-1, or a closely related retrovirus. Hence, the contemporary chimpanzee populations represent the offspring of AIDS-resistant animals, the survivors of a HIV-like pandemic that took place in the distant past.

PMID:
12186979
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC129340
Free PMC Article
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