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Analysis of the sequence variations in the Mhc DRB1-like gene of the endangered Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)

Kikkawa, E.F., Tsuda, T.T., Naruse, T.K., Sumiyama, D., Fukuda, M., Kurita, M., Murata, K., Wilson, R.P., LeMaho, Y., Tsuda, M., Kulski, J.K. and Inoko, H. (2005) Analysis of the sequence variations in the Mhc DRB1-like gene of the endangered Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti). Immunogenetics, 57 (1-2). pp. 99-107.

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The Major Histocompatibility Complex (Mhc) genomic region of many vertebrates is known to contain at least one highly polymorphic class II gene that is homologous in sequence to one or other of the human Mhc DRB1 class II genes. The diversity of the avian Mhc class II gene sequences have been extensively studied in chickens, quails, and some songbirds, but have been largely ignored in the oceanic birds, including the flightless penguins. We have previously reported that several penguin species have a high degree of polymorphism on exon 2 of the Mhc class II DRB1-like gene. In this study, we present for the first time the complete nucleotide sequences of exon 2, intron 2, and exon 3 of the DRB1-like gene of 20 Humboldt penguins, a species that is presently vulnerable to the dangers of extinction. The Humboldt DRB1-like nucleotide and amino acid sequences reveal at least eight unique alleles. Phylogenetic analysis of all the available avian DRB-like sequences showed that, of five penguin species and nine other bird species, the sequences of the Humboldt penguins grouped most closely to the Little penguin and the mallard, respectively. The present analysis confirms that the sequence variations of the Mhc class II gene, DRB1, are useful for discriminating among individuals within the same penguin population as well those within different penguin population groups and species.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Centre for Comparative Genomics
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Copyright: © Springer-Verlag 2005.
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