Congratulations to ISG Faculty member and Vice Chairperson of Academic Personnel and Development, Jessica Lynch, for her recent article publication, “Major histocompatibility complex class II DR and DQ evolution and variation in wild capuchin monkey species (Cebinae).”


The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is an important gene complex contributing to adaptive immunity. Studies of platyrrhine MHC have focused on identifying experimental models of immune system function in the equivalent Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA). These genes have thus been explored primarily in captive platyrrhine individuals from research colonies. However, investigations of standing MHC variation and evolution in wild populations are essential to understanding its role in immunity, sociality and ecology. Capuchins are a promising model group exhibiting the greatest habitat diversity, widest diet breadth and arguably the most social complexity among platyrrhines, together likely resulting in varied immunological challenges. We use high-throughput sequencing to characterize polymorphism in four Class II DR and DQ exons for the first time in seven capuchin species. We find evidence for at least three copies for DQ genes and at least five for DRB, with possible additional unrecovered diversity. Our data also reveal common genotypes that are inherited across our most widely sampled population, Cebus imitator in Sector Santa Rosa, Costa Rica. Notably, phylogenetic analyses reveal that platyrrhine DQA sequences form a monophyletic group to the exclusion of all Catarrhini sequences examined. This result is inconsistent with the trans-species hypothesis for MHC evolution across infraorders in Primates and provides further evidence for the independent origin of current MHC genetic diversity in Platyrrhini. Identical allele sharing across cebid species, and more rarely genera, however, does underscore the complexity of MHC gene evolution and the need for more comprehensive assessments of allelic diversity and genome structure.

To read more of Lynch’s article, click here.