In order to facilitate molecular analysis of antibody responses in Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta), we used PCR techniques to clone and sequence the germline IGHD gene repertoire and the IGHD7-IGHJ6 locus in its entirety. We identified 30 distinct Rhesus DH genes belonging to seven subgroups and their recombination signal sequences that together share an average of 91% identity with their human counterparts, six potentially functional IGHJ genes and their recombination signal sequences that together share 93% identity with their human counterparts, as well as a novel IGHJ gene, IGHJ5β, which is a duplicated variant of IGHJ5. The presence, on average, of one additional IGHD gene in Rhesus IGHD subgroups when compared with human and one additional IGHJ gene suggests Rhesus has undergone at least two independent duplications beyond those that mark the human IGHD/IGHJ locus. Amino acid sequence composition is highly conserved between Rhesus and human, with IGHD insertions and deletions limited to three-nucleotide multiples, which serve to preserve enrichment for tyrosine, glycine, and serine residues in IGHD reading frame 1. The high degree of conservation between human and Rhesus IGHD and IGHJ genes supports the hypothesis that the germline repertoire encodes evolutionarily preferred antibody sequence as a result of selection for function.
- Antibody repertoire
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