The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is a group of genes with a variety of roles in the innate and adaptive immune responses. MHC genes form a genetically linked cluster in eutherian mammals, an organization that is thought to confer functional and evolutionary advantages to the immune system. The tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii), an Australian marsupial, provides a unique model for understanding MHC gene evolution, as many of its antigen presenting genes are not linked to the MHC, but are scattered around the genome.
Here we describe the 'core' tammar wallaby MHC region on chromosome 2q by ordering and sequencing 33 BAC clones, covering over 4.5 MB and containing 129 genes. When compared to the MHC region of the South American opossum, eutherian mammals and non-mammals, the wallaby MHC has a novel gene organization. The wallaby has undergone an expansion of MHC class II genes, which are separated into two clusters by the class III genes. The antigen processing genes have undergone duplication, resulting in two copies of TAP1 and three copies of TAP2. Notably, Kangaroo Endogenous Retroviral Elements are present within the region and may have contributed to the genomic instability.
The wallaby MHC has been extensively remodeled since the American and Australian marsupials last shared a common ancestor. The instability is characterized by the movement of antigen presenting genes away from the core MHC, most likely via the presence and activity of retroviral elements. We propose that the movement of class II genes away from the ancestral class II region has allowed this gene family to expand and diversify in the wallaby. The duplication of TAP genes in the wallaby MHC makes this species a unique model organism for studying the relationship between MHC gene organization and function.
The Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) is essential for immune function. Historically, it has been subdivided into three regions (Class I, II, and III), but a cluster of functionally related genes within the Class III region has also been referred to as the Class IV region or "inflammatory region". This group of genes is involved in the inflammatory response, and includes members of the tumour necrosis family. Here we report the sequencing, annotation and comparative analysis of a tammar wallaby BAC containing the inflammatory region. We also discuss the extent of sequence conservation across the entire region and identify elements conserved in evolution.
Fourteen Class III genes from the tammar wallaby inflammatory region were characterised and compared to their orthologues in other vertebrates. The organisation and sequence of genes in the inflammatory region of both the wallaby and South American opossum are highly conserved compared to known genes from eutherian ("placental") mammals. Some minor differences separate the two marsupial species. Eight genes within the inflammatory region have remained tightly clustered for at least 360 million years, predating the divergence of the amphibian lineage. Analysis of sequence conservation identified 354 elements that are conserved. These range in size from 7 to 431 bases and cover 15.6% of the inflammatory region, representing approximately a 4-fold increase compared to the average for vertebrate genomes. About 5.5% of this conserved sequence is marsupial-specific, including three cases of marsupial-specific repeats. Highly Conserved Elements were also characterised.
Using comparative analysis, we show that a cluster of MHC genes involved in inflammation, including TNF, LTA (or its putative teleost homolog TNF-N), APOM, and BAT3 have remained together for over 450 million years, predating the divergence of mammals from fish. The observed enrichment in conserved sequences within the inflammatory region suggests conservation at the transcriptional regulatory level, in addition to the functional level.
X chromosome inactivation (XCI) achieves dosage compensation between males and females for most X-linked genes in eutherian mammals. It is a whole-chromosome effect under the control of the XIST locus, although some genes escape inactivation. Marsupial XCI differs from the eutherian process, implying fundamental changes in the XCI mechanism during the evolution of the two lineages. There is no direct evidence for the existence of a marsupial XIST homologue. XCI has been studied for only a handful of genes in any marsupial, and none in the model kangaroo Macropus eugenii (the tammar wallaby). We have therefore studied the sequence, location and activity of a gene SLC16A2 (solute carrier, family 16, class A, member 2) that flanks XIST on the human and mouse X chromosomes. A BAC clone containing the marsupial SLC16A2 was mapped to the end of the long arm of the tammar X chromosome and used in RNA FISH experiments to determine whether one or both loci are transcribed in female cells. In male and female cells, only a single signal was found, indicating that the marsupial SLC16A2 gene is silenced on the inactivated X.
marsupial; SLC16A2 gene; X chromosome evolution; X chromosome inactivation
TG-interacting factors (TGIFs) belong to a family of TALE-homeodomain proteins including TGIF1, TGIF2 and TGIFLX/Y in human. Both TGIF1 and TGIF2 act as transcription factors repressing TGF-β signalling. Human TGIFLX and its orthologue, Tex1 in the mouse, are X-linked genes that are only expressed in the adult testis. TGIF2 arose from TGIF1 by duplication, whereas TGIFLX arose by retrotransposition to the X-chromosome. These genes have not been characterised in any non-eutherian mammals. We therefore studied the TGIF family in the tammar wallaby (a marsupial mammal) to investigate their roles in reproduction and how and when these genes may have evolved their functions and chromosomal locations.
Both TGIF1 and TGIF2 were present in the tammar genome on autosomes but TGIFLX was absent. Tammar TGIF1 shared a similar expression pattern during embryogenesis, sexual differentiation and in adult tissues to that of TGIF1 in eutherian mammals, suggesting it has been functionally conserved. Tammar TGIF2 was ubiquitously expressed throughout early development as in the human and mouse, but in the adult, it was expressed only in the gonads and spleen, more like the expression pattern of human TGIFLX and mouse Tex1. Tammar TGIF2 mRNA was specifically detected in round and elongated spermatids. There was no mRNA detected in mature spermatozoa. TGIF2 protein was specifically located in the cytoplasm of spermatids, and in the residual body and the mid-piece of the mature sperm tail. These data suggest that tammar TGIF2 may participate in spermiogenesis, like TGIFLX does in eutherians. TGIF2 was detected for the first time in the ovary with mRNA produced in the granulosa and theca cells, suggesting it may also play a role in folliculogenesis.
The restricted and very similar expression of tammar TGIF2 to X-linked paralogues in eutherians suggests that the evolution of TGIF1, TGIF2 and TGIFLX in eutherians was accompanied by a change from ubiquitous to tissue-specific expression. The distribution and localization of TGIF2 in tammar adult gonads suggest that there has been an ultra-conserved function for the TGIF family in fertility and that TGIF2 already functioned in spermatogenesis and potentially folliculogenesis long before its retrotransposition to the X-chromosome of eutherian mammals. These results also provide further evidence that the eutherian X-chromosome has actively recruited sex and reproductive-related genes during mammalian evolution.
The limited (2X) coverage of the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii) genome sequence dataset currently presents a challenge for assembly and anchoring onto chromosomes. To provide a framework for this assembly, it would be a great advantage to have a dense map of the tammar wallaby genome. However, only limited mapping data are available for this non-model species, comprising a physical map and a linkage map.
We combined all available tammar wallaby mapping data to create a tammar wallaby integrated map, using the Location DataBase (LDB) strategy. This first-generation integrated map combines all available information from the second-generation tammar wallaby linkage map with 148 loci, and extensive FISH mapping data for 492 loci, especially for genes likely to be located at the ends of wallaby chromosomes or at evolutionary breakpoints inferred from comparative information. For loci whose positions are only approximately known, their location in the integrated map was refined on the basis of comparative information from opossum (Monodelphis domestica) and human. Interpolation of segments from the opossum and human assemblies into the integrated map enabled the subsequent construction of a tammar wallaby first-generation virtual genome map, which comprises 14336 markers, including 13783 genes recruited from opossum and human assemblies. Both maps are freely available at http://compldb.angis.org.au.
The first-generation integrated map and the first-generation virtual genome map provide a backbone for the chromosome assembly of the tammar wallaby genome sequence. For example, 78% of the 10257 gene-scaffolds in the Ensembl annotation of the tammar wallaby genome sequence (including 10522 protein-coding genes) can now be given a chromosome location in the tammar wallaby virtual genome map.
The heat shock proteins (HSPs) gp96 and HSP70 mediate potent antigen-dependent anti-tumor T cell responses in both mammals and Xenopus laevis. We have shown that frogs immunized with total HSP70 generate CD8+ T cell responses against the Xenopus thymic lymphoid tumor 15/0 that expresses several non-classical MHC class Ib (class Ib) genes, but no classical MHC class Ia (class Ia). In the absence of class Ia, we hypothesized that hsp72 can prime class Ib-mediated anti-tumor unconventional CD8+ T cells in an antigen-dependent manner. To test this, we produced Xenopus recombinant HSP70 proteins (both the cognate hsc73 and the inducible hsp72) from stable 15/0 tumor transfectants. We used an in vivo cross-presentation assay to prime animals by adoptive transfer of HSP-pulsed antigen-presenting cells (APCs) and showed that both hsp72-and hsc73-Ag complexes have a similar potential to elicit class Ia-mediated T cell responses against minor histocompatibility (H) Ag skin grafts. In contrast, our in vivo cross-presentation assay revealed that hsp72 was more potent than hsc73 in generating protective immune responses against the class Ia-negative 15/0 tumors in an Ag-dependent and class Ib-mediated manner. These results suggest that hsp72 can stimulate class Ib-mediated immune responses and represents a promising candidate for immunotherapy against malignancies with downregulated class Ia expression.
heat shock proteins; tumor immunity; Xenopus laevis; comparative immunology
Small RNAs have proven to be essential regulatory molecules encoded within eukaryotic genomes. These short RNAs participate in a diverse array of cellular processes including gene regulation, chromatin dynamics and genome defense. The tammar wallaby, a marsupial mammal, is a powerful comparative model for studying the evolution of regulatory networks. As part of the genome sequencing initiative for the tammar, we have explored the evolution of each of the major classes of mammalian small RNAs in an Australian marsupial for the first time, including the first genome-scale analysis of the newest class of small RNAs, centromere repeat associated short interacting RNAs (crasiRNAs).
Using next generation sequencing, we have characterized the major classes of small RNAs, micro (mi) RNAs, piwi interacting (pi) RNAs, and the centromere repeat associated short interacting (crasi) RNAs in the tammar. We examined each of these small RNA classes with respect to the newly assembled tammar wallaby genome for gene and repeat features, salient features that define their canonical sequences, and the constitution of both highly conserved and species-specific members. Using a combination of miRNA hairpin predictions and co-mapping with miRBase entries, we identified a highly conserved cluster of miRNA genes on the X chromosome in the tammar and a total of 94 other predicted miRNA producing genes. Mapping all miRNAs to the tammar genome and comparing target genes among tammar, mouse and human, we identified 163 conserved target genes. An additional nine genes were identified in tammar that do not have an orthologous miRNA target in human and likely represent novel miRNA-regulated genes in the tammar. A survey of the tammar gonadal piRNAs shows that these small RNAs are enriched in retroelements and carry members from both marsupial and tammar-specific repeat classes. Lastly, this study includes the first in-depth analyses of the newly discovered crasiRNAs. These small RNAs are derived largely from centromere-enriched retroelements, including a novel SINE.
This study encompasses the first analyses of the major classes of small RNAs for the newly completed tammar genome, validates preliminary annotations using deep sequencing and computational approaches, and provides a foundation for future work on tammar-specific as well as conserved, but previously unknown small RNA progenitors and targets identified herein. The characterization of new miRNA target genes and a unique profile for crasiRNAs has allowed for insight into multiple RNA mediated processes in the tammar, including gene regulation, species incompatibilities, centromere and chromosome function.
We have previously identified associations between major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I and resistance towards bacterial and viral pathogens in Atlantic salmon. To evaluate if only MHC or also closely linked genes contributed to the observed resistance we ventured into sequencing of the duplicated MHC class I regions of Atlantic salmon.
Nine BACs covering more than 500 kb of the two duplicated MHC class I regions of Atlantic salmon were sequenced and the gene organizations characterized. Both regions contained the proteasome components PSMB8, PSMB9, PSMB9-like and PSMB10 in addition to the transporter for antigen processing TAP2, as well as genes for KIFC1, ZBTB22, DAXX, TAPBP, BRD2, COL11A2, RXRB and SLC39A7. The IA region contained the recently reported MHC class I Sasa-ULA locus residing approximately 50 kb upstream of the major Sasa-UBA locus. The duplicated class IB region contained an MHC class I locus resembling the rainbow trout UCA locus, but although transcribed it was a pseudogene. No other MHC class I-like genes were detected in the two duplicated regions. Two allelic BACs spanning the UBA locus had 99.2% identity over 125 kb, while the IA region showed 82.5% identity over 136 kb to the IB region. The Atlantic salmon IB region had an insert of 220 kb in comparison to the IA region containing three chitin synthase genes.
We have characterized the gene organization of more than 500 kb of the two duplicated MHC class I regions in Atlantic salmon. Although Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout are closely related, the gene organization of their IB region has undergone extensive gene rearrangements. The Atlantic salmon has only one class I UCA pseudogene in the IB region while trout contains the four MHC UCA, UDA, UEA and UFA class I loci. The large differences in gene content and most likely function of the salmon and trout class IB region clearly argues that sequencing of salmon will not necessarily provide information relevant for trout and vice versa.
The Xenopus model for immunological research offers a collection of invaluable research tools including MHC-defined clones, inbred strains, cell lines, and monoclonal antibodies. Further, the annotated full genome sequence of X. tropicalis and its remarkable conservation of gene organization with mammals, as well as ongoing genome mapping and mutagenesis studies in X. tropicalis, add a new dimension to the study of immunity. In this paper, we review uses of this amphibian model to study: the development of the immune system; vascular and lymphatic regeneration; immune tolerance; tumor immunity; immune responses to important emerging infectious diseases; and the evolution of classical and non-classical MHC class I genes. We also discuss the rich potential of the species with different degrees of polypoidy resulting from whole genome-wide duplication of the Xenopodinae subfamily as a model to study regulation at the genome level.
Immunogenetics; tumor immunity; nonclassical MHC class I; genome evolution
The first sequenced marsupial genome promises to reveal unparalleled insights into mammalian evolution. We have used theMonodelphis domestica (gray short-tailed opossum) sequence to construct the first map of a marsupial major histocompatibility complex (MHC). The MHC is the most gene-dense region of the mammalian genome and is critical to immunity and reproductive success. The marsupial MHC bridges the phylogenetic gap between the complex MHC of eutherian mammals and the minimal essential MHC of birds. Here we show that the opossum MHC is gene dense and complex, as in humans, but shares more organizational features with non-mammals. The Class I genes have amplified within the Class II region, resulting in a unique Class I/II region. We present a model of the organization of the MHC in ancestral mammals and its elaboration during mammalian evolution. The opossum genome, together with other extant genomes, reveals the existence of an ancestral “immune supercomplex” that contained genes of both types of natural killer receptors together with antigen processing genes and MHC genes.
Opossum genomic sequence data permit researchers to fill gaps in our knowledge of how the Major Histocompatibility Complex evolved within the mammalian lineage.
Two sequences of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) regions in the domestic cat, 2.976 and 0.362 Mbps, which were separated by an ancient chromosome break (55–80 MYA) and followed by a chromosomal inversion were annotated in detail. Gene annotation of this MHC was completed and identified 183 possible coding regions, 147 human homologues, possible functional genes and 36 pseudo/unidentified genes) by GENSCAN and BLASTN, BLASTP RepeatMasker programs. The first region spans 2.976 Mbp sequence, which encodes six classical class II antigens (three DRA and three DRB antigens) lacking the functional DP, DQ regions, nine antigen processing molecules (DOA/DOB, DMA/DMB, TAPASIN, and LMP2/LMP7,TAP1/TAP2), 52 class III genes, nineteen class I genes/gene fragments (FLAI-A to FLAI-S). Three class I genes (FLAI-H, I-K, I-E) may encode functional classical class I antigens based on deduced amino acid sequence and promoter structure. The second region spans 0.362 Mbp sequence encoding no class I genes and 18 cross-species conserved genes, excluding class I, II and their functionally related/associated genes, namely framework genes, including three olfactory receptor genes. One previously identified feline endogenous retrovirus, a baboon retrovirus derived sequence (ECE1) and two new endogenous retrovirus sequences, similar to brown bat endogenous retrovirus (FERVmlu1, FERVmlu2) were found within a 140 Kbp interval in the middle of class I region. MHC SNPs were examined based on comparisons of this BAC sequence and MHC homozygous 1.9× WGS sequences and found that 11,654 SNPs in 2.84 Mbp (0.00411 SNP per bp), which is 2.4 times higher rate than average heterozygous region in the WGS (0.0017 SNP per bp genome), and slightly higher than the SNP rate observed in human MHC (0.00337 SNP per bp).
To understand the evolutionary origins of our own immune system, we need to characterise the immune system of our distant relatives, the marsupials and monotremes. The recent sequencing of the genomes of two marsupials (opossum and tammar wallaby) and a monotreme (platypus) provides an opportunity to characterise the immune gene repertoires of these model organisms. This was required as many genes involved in immunity evolve rapidly and fail to be detected by automated gene annotation pipelines.
We have developed a database of immune genes from the tammar wallaby, red-necked wallaby, northern brown bandicoot, brush-tail possum, opossum, echidna and platypus. The resource contains 2,235 newly identified sequences and 3,197 sequences which had been described previously. This comprehensive dataset was built from a variety of sources, including EST projects and expert-curated gene predictions generated through a variety of methods including chained-BLAST and sensitive HMMER searches. To facilitate systems-based research we have grouped sequences based on broad Gene Ontology categories as well as by specific functional immune groups. Sequences can be extracted by keyword, gene name, protein domain and organism name. Users can also search the database using BLAST.
The Immunome Database for Marsupials and Monotremes (IDMM) is a comprehensive database of all known marsupial and monotreme immune genes. It provides a single point of reference for genomic and transcriptomic datasets. Data from other marsupial and monotreme species will be added to the database as it become available. This resource will be utilized by marsupial and monotreme immunologists as well as researchers interested in the evolution of mammalian immunity.
Murine intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes (iIELs) are made up of a heterogeneous mix of T cells with unique phenotypes. Whereas CD8+ T cells in peripheral lymphoid organs use CD8α/β and are selected on MHC class Ia molecules, a majority of iIELs use CD8α/α. Here, we report that the presence of CD8α/α TCR-α/β cells in iIELs is independent of classical MHC class I molecules Kb and Db, as illustrated by their presence in Kb/Db double-knockout mice and in mice lacking a nonclassical MHC class I molecule, CD1d. Most strikingly, their presence is decreased by ∼70% in mice lacking transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP). The TAP-dependent nonclassical MHC class I molecule Qa-2 is strongly implicated in the presence of these cells, as inferred from the low numbers of CD8α/α TCR-α/β T cells in mice deficient in Qa-2 genes. Second, a Qa-2–transgenic mouse made in a Qa-2− strain showed an increase in the numbers of CD8α/α cells among its iIELs. Thus, the presence of CD8α/α TCR-α/β cells in iIELs is mainly dependent on the nonclassical MHC class I molecule Qa-2.
CD8α/α TCR-α/β cells; MHC class I–deficient mice; Qa-2–transgenic mice; Qa-2–deficient mice; intestinal intraepithelial lymphocyte
The genomic organisation of the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) varies greatly between different vertebrates. In mammals, the classical MHC consists of a large number of linked genes (e.g. greater than 200 in humans) with predominantly immune function. In some birds, it consists of only a small number of linked MHC core genes (e.g. smaller than 20 in chickens) forming a minimal essential MHC and, in fish, the MHC consists of a so far unknown number of genes including non-linked MHC core genes. Here we report a survey of MHC genes and their paralogues in the zebrafish genome.
Using sequence similarity searches against the zebrafish draft genome assembly (Zv4, September 2004), 149 putative MHC gene loci and their paralogues have been identified. Of these, 41 map to chromosome 19 while the remaining loci are spread across essentially all chromosomes. Despite the fragmentation, a set of MHC core genes involved in peptide transport, loading and presentation are still found in a single linkage group.
The results extend the linkage information of MHC core genes on zebrafish chromosome 19 and show the distribution of the remaining MHC genes and their paralogues to be genome-wide. Although based on a draft genome assembly, this survey demonstrates an essentially fragmented MHC in zebrafish.
The genomic sequences of 15 horse Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) class I genes and a collection of MHC class I homozygous horses of five different haplotypes were used to investigate the genomic structure and polymorphism of the equine MHC. A combination of conserved and locus-specific primers was used to amplify horse MHC class I genes with classical and non-classical characteristics. Multiple clones from each haplotype identified three to five classical sequences per homozygous animal, and two to three non-classical sequences. Phylogenetic analysis was applied to these sequences and groups were identified which appear to be allelic series, but some sequences were left ungrouped. Sequences determined from MHC class I heterozygous horses and previously described MHC class I sequences were then added, representing a total of ten horse MHC haplotypes. These results were consistent with those obtained from the MHC homozygous horses alone, and 30 classical sequences were assigned to four previously confirmed loci and three new provisional loci. The non-classical genes had few alleles and the classical genes had higher levels of allelic polymorphism. Alleles for two classical loci with the expected pattern of polymorphism were found in the majority of haplotypes tested, but alleles at two other commonly detected loci had more variation outside of the hypervariable region than within. Our data indicate that the equine Major Histocompatibility Complex is characterized by variation in the complement of class I genes expressed in different haplotypes in addition to the expected allelic polymorphism within loci.
horse; MHC class I gene; polymorphism; haplotype structure
The thymus plays a critical role in the development and maturation of T-cells. Humans have a single thoracic thymus and presence of a second thymus is considered an anomaly. However, many vertebrates have multiple thymuses. The tammar wallaby has two thymuses: a thoracic thymus (typically found in all mammals) and a dominant cervical thymus. Researchers have known about the presence of the two wallaby thymuses since the 1800s, but no genome-wide research has been carried out into possible functional differences between the two thymic tissues. Here, we used pyrosequencing to compare the transcriptomes of a cervical and thoracic thymus from a single 178 day old tammar wallaby.
We show that both the tammar thoracic and the cervical thymuses displayed gene expression profiles consistent with roles in T-cell development. Both thymuses expressed genes that mediate distinct phases of T-cells differentiation, including the initial commitment of blood stem cells to the T-lineage, the generation of T-cell receptor diversity and development of thymic epithelial cells. Crucial immune genes, such as chemokines were also present. Comparable patterns of expression of non-coding RNAs were seen. 67 genes differentially expressed between the two thymuses were detected, and the possible significance of these results are discussed.
This is the first study comparing the transcriptomes of two thymuses from a single individual. Our finding supports that both thymuses are functionally equivalent and drive T-cell development. These results are an important first step in the understanding of the genetic processes that govern marsupial immunity, and also allow us to begin to trace the evolution of the mammalian immune system.
The human X chromosome has a biased gene content. One group of genes that is over-represented on the human X are those expressed in the brain, explaining the large number of sex-linked mental retardation (MRX) syndromes.
To determine if MRX genes were recruited to the X, or whether their brain-specific functions were acquired after relocation to the mammalian X chromosome, we examined the location and expression of their orthologues in marsupials, which diverged from human approximately 180 million years ago. We isolated and mapped nine tammar wallaby MRX homologues, finding that six were located on the tammar wallaby X (which represents the ancient conserved mammal X) and three on chromosome 5, representing the recently added region of the human X chromosome. The location of MRX genes within the same synteny groups in human and wallaby does not support the hypothesis that genes with an important function in the brain were recruited in multiple independent events from autosomes to the mammalian X chromosome. Most of the tammar wallaby MRX homologues were more widely expressed in tammar wallaby than in human. Only one, the tammar wallaby ARX homologue (located on tammar chromosome 5p), has a restricted expression pattern comparable to its pattern in human. The retention of the brain-specific expression of ARX over 180 million years suggests that this gene plays a fundamental role in mammalian brain development and function.
Our results suggest all the genes in this study may have originally had more general functions that became more specialised and important in brain function during evolution of humans and other placental mammals.
Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are an attractive resource for new therapeutic approaches that involve tissue regeneration. hESCs have exhibited low immunogenicity due to low levels of Mayor Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) class-I and absence of MHC class-II expression. Nevertheless, the mechanisms regulating MHC expression in hESCs had not been explored.
We analyzed the expression levels of classical and non-classical MHC class-I, MHC class-II molecules, antigen-processing machinery (APM) components and NKG2D ligands (NKG2D-L) in hESCs, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and NTera2 (NT2) teratocarcinoma cell line. Epigenetic mechanisms involved in the regulation of these genes were investigated by bisulfite sequencing and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays. We showed that low levels of MHC class-I molecules were associated with absent or reduced expression of the transporter associated with antigen processing 1 (TAP-1) and tapasin (TPN) components in hESCs and iPSCs, which are involved in the transport and load of peptides. Furthermore, lack of β2-microglobulin (β2m) light chain in these cells limited the expression of MHC class I trimeric molecule on the cell surface. NKG2D ligands (MICA, MICB) were observed in all pluripotent stem cells lines. Epigenetic analysis showed that H3K9me3 repressed the TPN gene in undifferentiated cells whilst HLA-B and β2m acquired the H3K4me3 modification during the differentiation to embryoid bodies (EBs). Absence of HLA-DR and HLA-G expression was regulated by DNA methylation.
Our data provide fundamental evidence for the epigenetic control of MHC in hESCs and iPSCs. Reduced MHC class I and class II expression in hESCs and iPSCs can limit their recognition by the immune response against these cells. The knowledge of these mechanisms will further allow the development of strategies to induce tolerance and improve stem cell allograft acceptance.
Among mammals, only eutherians and marsupials are viviparous and have genomic imprinting that leads to parent-of-origin-specific differential gene expression. We used comparative analysis to investigate the origin of genomic imprinting in mammals. PEG10 (paternally expressed 10) is a retrotransposon-derived imprinted gene that has an essential role for the formation of the placenta of the mouse. Here, we show that an orthologue of PEG10 exists in another therian mammal, the marsupial tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii), but not in a prototherian mammal, the egg-laying platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), suggesting its close relationship to the origin of placentation in therian mammals. We have discovered a hitherto missing link of the imprinting mechanism between eutherians and marsupials because tammar PEG10 is the first example of a differentially methylated region (DMR) associated with genomic imprinting in marsupials. Surprisingly, the marsupial DMR was strictly limited to the 5′ region of PEG10, unlike the eutherian DMR, which covers the promoter regions of both PEG10 and the adjacent imprinted gene SGCE. These results not only demonstrate a common origin of the DMR-associated imprinting mechanism in therian mammals but provide the first demonstration that DMR-associated genomic imprinting in eutherians can originate from the repression of exogenous DNA sequences and/or retrotransposons by DNA methylation.
Genomic imprinting is a gene regulatory mechanism controlling parent-of-origin-dependent expression of genes. In eutherians, imprinting is essential for fetal and placental development and defects in this mechanism are the cause of several genetic disorders. In eutherian mammals, genomic imprinting is controlled by differential methylation of the DNA. However, no such methylation-dependent mechanism had been previously identified in association with marsupial imprinting. By comparing the genome of all three extant classes of mammals (eutherians, marsupials, and monotremes), we have investigated the evolution of PEG10 (paternally expressed 10), a retrotransposon-derived imprinted gene that is essential for the formation of the placenta in the mouse. PEG10 was present in a marsupial species, the tammar wallaby, but absent from an egg-laying monotreme species, the platypus. Therefore, PEG10 was inserted into the genome at the time when the placenta and viviparity were evolving in therian mammals. This study has shown that PEG10 is not only imprinted in a marsupial, but that its imprint is regulated by differential methylation, suggesting a common origin for methylation in the therian ancestor. These results provide direct evidence that retrotransposon insertion can drive the evolution of genomic imprinting in mammals.
The Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) is a cluster of genes involved in the vertebrate immune system and includes loci with an extraordinary number of alleles. Due to the complex evolution of MHC genes, alleles from different loci within the same MHC class can be very similar and therefore difficult to assign to separate loci. Consequently, single locus amplification of MHC genes is hard to carry out in species with recently duplicated genes in the same MHC class, and multiple MHC loci have to be genotyped simultaneously. Since amplified alleles have the same length, accurate genotyping is difficult. Reference Strand-Mediated Conformational Analysis (RSCA), which is increasingly used in studies of natural populations with multiple MHC genes, is a genotyping method capable to provide high resolution and accuracy in such cases.
We adapted the RSCA method to genotype multiple MHC class II B (BLB) genes in black grouse (Tetrao tetrix), a non-model galliform bird species, using a 96-Capillary Array Electrophoresis, the MegaBACE™ 1000 DNA Analysing System (GE Healthcare). In this study we used fluorescently labelled reference strands from both black grouse and hazel grouse and observed good agreement between RSCA and cloning/sequencing since 71 alleles were observed by cloning/sequencing and 76 alleles by RSCA among the 24 individuals included in the comparison. At the individual level however, there was a trend towards more alleles scored with RSCA (1-6 per individual) than cloning/sequencing (1-4 per individual). In 63% of the pair-wise comparison, the identical allele was scored in RSCA as in cloning/sequencing. Nine out of 24 individuals had the same number of alleles in RSCA as in cloning/sequencing. Our RSCA protocol allows a faster RSCA genotyping than presented in many other RSCA studies.
In this study, we have developed the RSCA typing method further to work on a 96-Capillary Array Electrophoresis (MegaBACE™ 1000). Our RSCA protocol can be applied to fast and reliable screening of MHC class II B diversity of black grouse populations. This will facilitate future large-scale population studies of black grouse and other galliformes species with multiple inseparable MHC loci.
Preimplantation mouse embryos express both classical (class Ia) and nonclassical (class Ib) MHC class I proteins, and yet are not rejected by the maternal immune system. Although the function of the embryonic MHC class Ia proteins is unknown, one MHC class Ib protein, Qa-2, the product of the preimplantation embryo development (Ped) gene, actually enhances reproductive success. Similar in structure to MHC class Ia proteins, Qa-2 protein is a trimer of the alpha (heavy) chain, β2 microglobulin and a bound peptide. Studies on the folding, assembly and trafficking of MHC class Ia molecules to the cell surface have revealed this process to be dependent on multiple protein chaperone molecules, but information on the role of chaperone molecules in Qa-2 expression is incomplete. Here, we report the detection of mRNA for four chaperone molecules (TAP1, TAP2, calnexin and tapasin) in preimplantation embryos. We then focused on the role of the MHC-dedicated chaperone, tapasin, on Qa-2 protein expression. First, we demonstrated that tapasin protein is expressed by preimplantation embryos. Then, we used tapasin knockout mice to evaluate the role of tapasin in Qa-2 protein expression on both T cells and preimplantation embryos. We report here that optimal cell surface expression of Qa-2 is dependent on tapasin in both T cells and preimplantation embryos. Identification of the molecules involved in regulation of MHC class I protein expression in early embryos is an important first step in gaining insight into mechanisms of escape of embryos from destruction by the maternal immune system.
Qa-2; MHC; TAP; calnexin; tapasin; preimplantation embryo
In jawed vertebrates, the heterogeneous nonclassical MHC class Ib (class Ib) gene family encodes molecules structurally similar to classical MHC class Ia (class Ia) but with more limited tissue distribution and lower polymorphism. In mammals, class Ib gene products are involved in stress responses, malignancy and differentiation of intrathymic CD8 T cells. The frog Xenopus laevis possesses at least 20 class Ib genes (XNCs), and 9 subfamilies have been defined so far. We have characterized two novel subfamilies, XNC10 and XNC11. XNC10 is phylogenetically and structurally distinct from both class Ia and other XNC genes. Besides thymic lymphoid tumors, XNC10 is preferentially expressed by circulating T cells and thymocytes of the CD8 lineage both in adult and in larvae from the onset of thymus organogenesis. XNC11 is expressed only by thymocytes and upregulated by several thymic lymphoid tumors. These data provide the first evidence of the expression of any class Ib genes in Xenopus larvae, and suggests evolutionary relationships between certain class Ib genes, malignancy and CD8 T cell ontogeny.
Xenopus; thymocytes; T cell ontogeny
Squamates are a diverse order of vertebrates, representing more than 7,000 species. Yet, descriptions of full-length major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes in this group are nearly absent from the literature, while the number of MHC studies continues to rise in other vertebrate taxa. The lack of basic information about MHC organization in squamates inhibits investigation into the relationship between MHC polymorphism and disease, and leaves a large taxonomic gap in our understanding of amniote MHC evolution. Here, we use both cDNA and genomic sequence data to characterize a class I MHC gene (Amcr-UA) from the Galápagos marine iguana, a member of the squamate subfamily Iguaninae. Amcr-UA appears to be functional since it is expressed in the blood and contains many of the conserved peptide-binding residues that are found in classical class I genes of other vertebrates. In addition, comparison of Amcr-UA to homologous sequences from other iguanine species shows that the antigen-binding portion of this gene is under purifying selection, rather than balancing selection, and therefore may have a conserved function. A striking feature of Amcr-UA is that both the cDNA and genomic sequences lack the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains that are necessary to anchor the class I receptor molecule into the cell membrane, suggesting that the product of this gene is secreted and consequently not involved in classical class I antigen-presentation. The truncated and conserved character of Amcr-UA lead us to define it as a nonclassical gene that is related to the few available squamate class I sequences. However, phylogenetic analysis placed Amcr-UA in a basal position relative to other published classical MHC genes from squamates, suggesting that this gene diverged near the beginning of squamate diversification.
The benefit of class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigen matching to renal allograft survival, in the absence of immunosuppression, has been studied in partially inbred miniature swine. Permanent (greater than 6 mo) renal allograft survival was found in 30% of recipients of either class II only or fully matched grafts. Analysis of the survival of the class II-only matched grafts by specific recipient/donor haplotype combinations indicated that survival was regulated by at least three genetic factors, including antigen gene dose, a class I MHC allele-dependent effect, and non-MHC-linked immune response phenomenon. Animals accepting class II-matched kidneys developed spontaneous tolerance to the graft, despite mounting an initial immune response marked by renal damage and the development of serum cytotoxic antibodies directed at the donor MHC antigens. The antibodies were only of the IgM class, suggesting that conversion of the humoral response to IgG was blocked. After acceptance of the kidney, three out of five animals showed specific prolongation of donor skin grafts. At the time of rejection of these skin grafts, no decrease in renal function nor reappearance of anti-donor antibodies was observed.
Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi), including trichostatin A (TSA) and valproic acid, can alter the acetylation of histones in chromatin and enhance gene transcription. Previously we demonstrated that HDACi-treated tumor cells are capable of presenting antigen via the MHC class II pathway. In this study, we show that treatment with HDACi enhances the expression of molecules (TAP1, TAP2, LMP2, LMP7, Tapasin and MHC class I) involved in antigen processing and presentation via the MHC class I pathway in melanoma cells. HDACi treatment of B16F10 cells also enhanced cell surface expression of class I and costimulatory molecules CD40 and CD86. Enhanced transcription of these genes is associated with a significant increase in direct presentation of whole protein antigen and MHC class I-restricted peptides by TSA-treated B16F10 cells. Our data indicate that epigenetic modification can convert a tumor cell to an antigen presenting cell capable of activating IFN-γ secreting T cells via the class I pathway. These findings suggest that the abnormalities, observed in some tumors in the expression of MHC class I antigen processing and presentation molecules, may result from epigenetic repression.
Epigenetic regulation; Histone deacetylase inhibitor; Antigen presentation; MHC class I; Melanoma