Abstract # 205:

Scheduled for Saturday, August 20, 2005 08:30 AM-08:45 AM: Session 15 (Parliament Room) Oral Presentation


K. M. Abbott1, E. J. Wickings2 and L. A. Knapp1
1PrIME, Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB2 3DZ, United Kingdom, 2UGENET, Centre International de Recherches Medicales, Franceville BP 769, Gabon
     Molecular genetic studies of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in primates have demonstrated extraordinary polymorphism at many functional loci. Numerous studies of macaques suggest that the MHC-DRB genes are particularly variable in some Old World primates, with different combinations of loci found on different haplotypes and extensive allele variation for most functional loci. To determine if this extraordinary variability is unique to macaques, we used molecular genetic techniques to identify MHC-DRB genes in another Old World primate, Mandrillus sphinx. Using a combination of cloning and sequencing and polymerase chain reaction, denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and direct sequencing, we identified more than 30 different alleles and more than 20 different haplotypes in only 12 captive wild-born mandrills housed at Centre International de Recherches Médicales, Franceville, Gabon. Our data demonstrate that MHC-DRB diversity in the mandrill rivals that described for rhesus macaques, with similarities in intra-locus variation and haplotype composition. A recent study of mitochondrial DNA suggested that there are different patterns of genetic diversity in animals that originate from Cameroon and Northern Gabon (north of the Ogooué River) and those that originate from south of the River bisecting Gabon. Preliminary nuclear DNA analyses are concordant with this hypothesis and one important consequence of this distribution may be differences in disease susceptibility and resistance. This work was funded in part by the Leverhulme Trust and the American Society of Primatologists.