Sequence diversity of MHC class II DRB genes in the bank voleMyodes glareolus
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In recent years, the bank voleMyodes glareolus (Schreber, 1780) has emerged as a model system for parasitological, behavioural and ecological studies and seems ideally suited to address questions concerning the importance of MHC variation at individual and population levels. Here, we provide the first extensive survey of sequence variation in the MHC class II DRB genes in this species. Among 34 analysed voles we found 15 unique sequences, representing most likely two loci, at least one of them expressed. Despite very high overall sequence divergence, particularly in the Antigen Binding Sites (ABS), we detected signatures of positive selection that has been acting on DRB in the bank vole. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that the bank vole DRB alleles do not form a monophyletic group but are intermingled with other rodent alleles that is consistent with long-term persistence of ancient allelic lineages maintained through balancing selection. Our sequence data will forward the design of efficient genotyping methods, which will permit testing hypotheses pertaining to the ecological causes and consequences of MHC variation in the bank vole.
Key wordsMajor Histocompatibility Complex polymorphism rodents selection recombination
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