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Immunogenetics. 2007 May;59(5):367-75. Epub 2007 Mar 3.

MHC class I A region diversity and polymorphism in macaque species.

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Department of Comparative Genetics and Refinement, Biomedical Primate Research Centre, P.O. Box 3306, 2280 GH, Rijswijk, The Netherlands.


The HLA-A locus represents a single copy gene that displays abundant allelic polymorphism in the human population, whereas, in contrast, a nonhuman primate species such as the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) possesses multiple HLA-A-like (Mamu-A) genes, which parade varying degrees of polymorphism. The number and combination of transcribed Mamu-A genes present per chromosome display diversity in a population of Indian animals. At present, it is not clearly understood whether these different A region configurations are evolutionarily stable entities. To shed light on this issue, rhesus macaques from a Chinese population and a panel of cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) were screened for various A region-linked variations. Comparisons demonstrated that most A region configurations are old entities predating macaque speciation, whereas most allelic variation (>95%) is of more recent origin. The latter situation contrasts the observations of the major histocompatibility complex class II genes in rhesus and cynomolgus macaques, which share a high number of identical alleles (>30%) as defined by exon 2 sequencing.

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