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Immunogenetics. 2006 Jun;58(5-6):481-6. Epub 2006 Apr 29.

Identification of a single killer immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) gene in the porcine leukocyte receptor complex on chromosome 6q.

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  • 1The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridge, CB10 1SA, England, UK.


Human killer immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) are expressed on natural killer (NK) cells and are involved in their immunoreactivity. While KIR with a long cytoplasmic tail deliver an inhibitory signal when bound to their respective major histocompatibility complex class I ligands, KIR with a short cytoplasmic tail can activate NK responses. The expansion of the KIR gene family originally appeared to be a phenomenon restricted to primates (human, apes, and monkeys) in comparison to rodents, which via convergent evolution have numerous C-type lectin-like Ly49 molecules that function analogously. Further studies have shown that multiple KIR are also present in cow and horse. In this study, we have identified by comparative genomics the first and possibly only KIR gene, named KIR2DL1, in the domesticated pig (Sus scrofa) allowing further evolutionary comparisons to be made. It encodes a protein with two extracellular immunoglobulin domains (D0 + D2), and a long cytoplasmic tail containing two inhibitory motifs. We have mapped the pig KIR2DL1 gene to chromosome 6q. Flanked by LILRa, LILRb, and LILRc, members of the leukocyte immunoglobulin-like receptor (LILR) family, on the centromeric end, and FCAR, NCR1, NALP7, NALP2, and GP6 on the telomeric end, pig demonstrates conservation of synteny with the human leukocyte receptor complex (LRC). Both the porcine KIR and LILR genes have diverged sufficiently to no longer be clearly orthologous with known human LRC family members.

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