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Immunogenetics. 2009 Apr;61(4):281-8. doi: 10.1007/s00251-009-0362-2. Epub 2009 Mar 5.

MHC class II variation in the endangered European mink Mustela lutreola (L. 1761)--consequences for species conservation.

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  • 1Department of Ethology, University of Osnabrück, Osnabrück, Germany.

Abstract

The polymorphic major histocompatibility complex (MHC) has gained a specific relevance in pathogen resistance and mate choice. Particularly the antigen-binding site (ABS), encoded by exon 2 of the DRB class II gene, exhibits numerous alleles and extensive sequence variations between alleles. A lack of MHC variability has attributed to instances such as bottleneck effects or relaxed selection pressure and has a certain impact on the long-term viability of the species concerned. As a result of seriously decreased population density during the last century, the current population of the endangered European mink (Mustela lutreola, L. 1761) has suffered from geographic isolation. In this study, we amplified a partial sequence of the MHC class II DRB exon 2 (229 bp), assessed the degree of genetic variation and compared the variability with those of other Mustelidae. As a result, nine alleles were detected in 20 investigated individuals, which differ from each other by four to 25 nucleotide substitutions (two to 11 amino acid substitutions). Whilst an equal ratio for synonymous and non-synonymous substitutions was found inside the ABS, synonymous substitutions were significantly higher than non-synonymous substitutions in the non-ABS region. Results might indicate that no positive selection exists within the ex situ population of M. lutreola, at least in the analysed fragment. In addition, phylogenetic analyses support the trans-species model of evolution.

PMID:
19263000
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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