Marsupials are one of three main evolutionary lineages in mammals, the other two being the monotremes and the placental mammals. The marsupial and the placental lineages separated between 120 and 156 million years ago. In this communication, we provide the first molecular description of class I major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) genes in a representative of the marsupial lineage, the red-necked wallaby, Macropus rufogriseus. Three different, nearly full-length class I Mhc sequences were identified in the cDNA library prepared from spleen mRNA of a single wallaby. The three sequences identify at least two loci. Under the assumption that two of the identified sequences are alleles, we designate the three wallaby genes Maru-Mhc-UA*01, Maru-Mhc-UA*02, and Maru-Mhc-UB*01. The three Maru sequences share several codon deletions and insertions not found in the class I genes of placental mammals. Comparisons of genetic distances among the known class I genes suggest that the Maru genes arose from one ancestral element, whereas the class I genes of the placental mammals arose from another, different ancestral element. The absence of an identifiable defect in the three Maru sequences suggests that the genes from which they were derived are functional. Hence, as in placental mammals, there appear to be two functional class I Mhc loci in the marsupials as well.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology