Sequence variation in a 216 bp portion of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) II B1 domain was examined in 74 individual lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) from different locations in Lake Superior. Forty-three alleles were obtained which encoded 71-72 amino acids of the mature protein. These sequences were compared with previous data obtained from five Pacific salmon species and Atlantic salmon using the same primers. Although all of the lake trout alleles clustered together in the neighbor-joining analysis of amino acid sequences, one amino acid allelic lineage was shared with Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), a species in another genus which probably diverged from Salvelinus more than 10-20 million years ago. As shown previously in other salmonids, the level of nonsynonymous nucleotide substitution (d(N)) exceeded the level of synonymous substitution (d(S)). The level of nucleotide diversity at the MHC class II B1 locus was considerably higher in lake trout than in the Pacific salmon (genus Oncorhynchus). These results are consistent with the hypothesis that lake trout colonized Lake Superior from more than one refuge following the Wisconsin glaciation. Recent population bottlenecks may have reduced nucleotide diversity in Pacific salmon populations.
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High levels of MHC class II allelic diversity in lake trout from Lake Superior