The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is central to maintaining the immunologic vigor of individuals and populations. Classical MHC class II genes were targeted for partial sequencing in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from populations in California, Washington, and Alaska. Sequences derived from sea otter peripheral blood leukocyte mRNAs were similar to those classified as DQA, DQB, DRA, and DRB in other species. Comparisons of the derived amino acid compositions supported the classification of these as functional molecules from at least one DQA, DQB, and DRA locus and at least two DRB loci. While limited in scope, phylogenetic analysis of the DRB peptide-binding region suggested the possible existence of distinct clades demarcated by geographic region. These preliminary findings support the need for additional MHC gene sequencing and expansion to a comprehensive study targeting additional otters. ?? 2006 Blackwell Munksgaard.
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Expressed MHC class II genes in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) from geographically disparate populations