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Immunogenetics. 2018 Feb;70(2):125-133. doi: 10.1007/s00251-017-1018-2. Epub 2017 Jul 1.

Characterisation of MHC class I genes in the koala.

Author information

1
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
2
Centre for Animal Health Innovation, Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia.
3
Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, Beerwah, QLD, 4519, Australia.
4
School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia. kathy.belov@sydney.edu.au.

Abstract

Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) populations are on the decline across the majority of Australia's mainland. Two major diseases threatening the long-term survival of affected koala populations are caused by obligate intracellular pathogens: Chlamydia and koala retrovirus (KoRV). To improve our understanding of the koala immune system, we characterised their major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I genes, which are centrally involved in presenting foreign peptides derived from intracellular pathogens to cytotoxic T cells. A total of 11 class I genes were identified in the koala genome. Three genes, Phci-UA, UB and UC, showed relatively high genetic variability and were expressed in all 12 examined tissues, whereas the other eight genes had tissue-specific expression and limited polymorphism. Evidence of diversifying selection was detected in Phci-UA and UC, while gene conversion may have played a role in creating new alleles at Phci-UB. We propose that Phci-UA, UB and UC are likely classical MHC genes of koalas, and further research is needed to understand their role in koala chlamydial and KoRV infections.

KEYWORDS:

Class I; Koala; MHC; Marsupial

PMID:
28669101
DOI:
10.1007/s00251-017-1018-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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