C4 gene polymorphism in primates: evolution, generation, and Chido and Rodgers antigenicity

Abstract

Eleven new C4d genomic primate sequences of the fourth complement factor (C4) have been obtained. Seven of them belong to five species not yet explored for this gene: Pan paniscus (pygmy chimpanzee), Cercopithecus aethiops (green monkey), Macaca mulatta (rhesus monkey), Macaca fascicularis (cynomolgus), and Saguinus oedipus (cotton top tamarin). The New World monkeys (tamarins, four individuals) sequenced for C4 have a single C4d sequence only, which shows a B isotypic specificity and a Rodgers 3 (Rg3), Chido 1 (Ch1) antigenicity. Rg3 and Ch1 could thus be the oldest Rg/Ch specificity (at least 50 million years old) and Rg1, Rg2, Ch3, and Ch6 could be more recent human-specific antigens. Mechanisms of C4d polymorphism generation were analyzed by compiling all the presently available sequences. Examples of both point mutations and crossing-over events among C4d primate sequences could be detected. The problem of a possible trans-species inheritance of C4d polymorphism was addressed and two apparently contradicting dendrograms were obtained. One of them, constructed by using both exon and intron sequences, does not support trans-species evolution, but supports the proposed theory of extensive homogenization of the C4 genes occurring within each species, because alleles from each primate species cluster together. Another completely different dendrogram, obtained by using exon sequences only, suggests the existence of trans-species evolution for C4d polymorphism, because alleles belonging to different species cluster together in a way similar to that found for HLA class I or II alleles. However, orangutan sequences group together in both kinds of C4d sequence dendrograms and seem to have arisen from an ancestor different from that of chimpanzee, gorilla and man C4d sequences. Finally, further data have been obtained that support trans-species conservation of A-ness and B-ness and the existence of trans-specifically conserved allelic motifs, both in intronic and exonic sequences.

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