Abstract Background Despite decades of studying, the mechanisms maintaining high diversity in the genes of the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) are still puzzling scientists. In addition to pathogen recognition and other functions, MHC molecules may act prenatally in mate choice and in maternal-foetal interactions. These interactions are potential selective mechanisms that increase genetic diversity in the MHC. During pregnancy, immune response has a dual role: the foetus represents foreign tissue compared to mother, but histo-incompatibility is required for successful pregnancy. We have studied the prenatal selection in MHC class II loci (DLA-DQA1, DLA-DQB1 and DLA-DRB1) in domestic dogs by comparing the observed and expected offspring genotype proportions in 110 dog families. Several potential selection targets were addressed, including the peptide-binding site, the MHC locus, three-locus haplotype and supertype levels. For the supertype analysis, the first canine supertype classification was created based on in silico analysis of peptide-binding amino-acid polymorphism. Results In most loci and levels, no deviation from the expected genotype frequencies was observed. However, one peptide-binding site in DLA-DRB1 had an excess of heterozygotes among the offspring. In addition, if the father shared a DLA-DRB1 allele with the mother, that allele was inherited by the offspring more frequently than expected, suggesting the selective advantage of a histo-compatible foetus, in contrast to our expectations. Conclusions We conclude that there is some evidence of post-copulatory selection at nucleotide site level in the MHC loci of pet dogs. But due to no indication of selection at locus, three-locus, or supertype levels, we estimated that the prenatal selection coefficient is less than 0.3 in domestic dogs and very likely other factors are more important in maintaining the genetic diversity in MHC loci.
|Date made available||18 Nov 2016|
- Canis familiaris
- Prenatal selection
- Supertype classification