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Am J Primatol. 2013 Feb;75(2):135-44. doi: 10.1002/ajp.22091. Epub 2012 Nov 15.

Single-nucleotide polymorphisms reveal patterns of allele sharing across the species boundary between rhesus (Macaca mulatta) and cynomolgus (M. fascicularis) macaques.

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Department of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, USA.


Both phenotypic and genetic evidence for asymmetric hybridization between rhesus (Macaca mulatta) and cynomolgus (Macaca fascicularis) macaques has been observed in the region of Indochina where both species are sympatric. The large-scale sharing of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II alleles between the two species in this region supports the hypothesis that genes, and especially genes involved in immune response, are being transferred across the species boundary. This differential introgression has important implications for the incorporation of cynomolgus macaques of unknown geographic origin in biomedical research protocols. Our study found that for 2,808 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers, the minor allele frequencies (MAF) and observed heterozygosity calculated from a sample of Vietnamese cynomolgus macaques was significantly different from those calculated from samples of both Chinese rhesus and Indonesian cynomolgus macaques. SNP alleles from Chinese rhesus macaques were overrepresented in a sample of Vietnamese cynomolgus macaques relative to their Indonesian conspecifics and located in genes functionally related to the primary immune system. These results suggest that Indochinese cynomolgus macaques represent a genetically and immunologically distinct entity from Indonesian cynomolgus macaques.

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