May 14, 2014

Non-random association of MHC-I alleles in favor of high diversity haplotypes in wild songbirds revealed by computer-assisted MHC haplotype inference using the R package MHCtools

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Nuno A FonsecaHelena Westerdahl


Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes play a central role for pathogen recognition by the adaptive immune system. The MHC genes are often duplicated and tightly linked within a small genomic region. This structural organization suggests that natural selection acts on the combined property of multiple MHC gene copies in segregating haplotypes, rather than on single MHC genes. This may have important implications for analyses of patterns of selection on MHC genes. Here, we present a computer-assisted protocol to infer segregating MHC haplotypes from family data, based on functions in the R package MHCtools. We employed this method to identify 107 unique MHC class I (MHC-I) haplotypes in 116 families of wild great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus). In our data, the MHC-I genes were tightly linked in haplotypes and inherited as single units, with only two observed recombination events among 334 offspring. We found substantial variation in the number of different MHC-I alleles per haplotype, and the divergence between alleles in MHC-I haplotypes was significantly higher than between randomly assigned alleles in simulated haplotypes. This suggests that selection has favored non-random associations of divergent MHC-I al...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Computer Software
Sequence Determinations, RNA
Nucleic Acid Sequencing
Gene Expression
Gene Expression Profiling

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