The ancestral progenitor of common chimpanzees and bonobos experienced a selective sweep that ravaged its major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I repertoire. The causative agent was probably an ancestral retrovirus, highly related to the contemporary HIV-1 strain, which initiated the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome pandemic in the human population. As a direct result, MHC class I allotypes with the capability of targeting conserved retroviral elements were enriched in the ancestral progenitor. Even today, the impact can be traced back by studying the functional capacities of the contemporary MHC class I allotypes of common chimpanzees. Viruses, however, have developed several strategies to manipulate the cell-surface expression of MHC class I genes. Monitoring the presence and absence of the MHC class I allotypes on the cell surface is conducted, for instance, by the hosts’ gene products of the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) complex. Hence, one may wonder whether—in the future—any clues with regard to the signature of the MHC class I selective sweep might be unearthed for the KIR genes as well.
Immunogenetics – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 10, 2017
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