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Immunoglobulin genetics of Ornithorhynchus anatinus (platypus) and Tachyglossus aculeatus (short-beaked echidna).

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Evolutionary Biology Unit, Australian Museum, 6 College Street, Sydney 2010, Australia.


In this paper, we review data on the monotreme immune system focusing on the characterisation of lymphoid tissue and of antibody responses, as well the recent cloning of immunoglobulin genes. It is now known that monotremes utilise immunoglobulin isotypes that are structurally identical to those found in marsupials and eutherians, but which differ to those found in birds and reptiles. Monotremes utilise IgM, IgG, IgA and IgE. They do not use IgY. Their IgG and IgA constant regions contain three domains plus a hinge region. Preliminary analysis of monotreme heavy chain variable region diversity suggests that the platypus primarily uses a single VH clan, while the short-beaked echidna utilises at least 4 distinct VH families which segregate into all three mammalian VH clans. Phylogenetic analysis of the immunoglobulin heavy chain constant region gene sequences provides strong support for the Theria hypothesis. The constant region of IgM has proven to be a useful marker for estimating the time of divergence of mammalian lineages.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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