University of Oulu

Sugiyama Y, Nishita Y, Lansink GMJ, Holmala K, Aspi J, Masuda R (2022) Diversity of the MHC class II DRB gene in the wolverine (Carnivora: Mustelidae: Gulo gulo) in Finland. PLoS ONE 17(5): e0267609.

Diversity of the MHC class II DRB gene in the wolverine (Carnivora: Mustelidae: Gulo gulo) in Finland

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Author: Sugiyama, Yuri1; Nishita, Yoshinori2; Lansink, Gerhardus M. J.3;
Organizations: 1Department of Natural History Sciences, Graduate School of Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
2Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
3Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Public Library of Science, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-09-28


The wolverine (Gulo gulo) in Finland has undergone significant population declines in the past. Since major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes encode proteins involved in pathogen recognition, the diversity of these genes provides insights into the immunological fitness of regional populations. We sequenced 862 amplicons (242 bp) of MHC class II DRB exon 2 from 32 Finnish wolverines and identified 11 functional alleles and three pseudogenes. A molecular phylogenetic analysis indicated trans-species polymorphism, and PAML and MEME analyses indicated positive selection, suggesting that the Finnish wolverine DRB genes have evolved under balancing and positive selection. In contrast to DRB gene analyses in other species, allele frequencies in the Finnish wolverines clearly indicated the existence of two regional subpopulations, congruent with previous studies based on neutral genetic markers. In the Finnish wolverine, rapid population declines in the past have promoted genetic drift, resulting in a lower genetic diversity of DRB loci, including fewer alleles and positively selected sites, than other mustelid species analyzed previously. Our data suggest that the MHC region in the Finnish wolverine population was likely affected by a recent bottleneck.

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Series: PLoS one
ISSN: 1932-6203
ISSN-E: 1932-6203
ISSN-L: 1932-6203
Volume: 17
Issue: 5
Article number: e0267609
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0267609
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: This study was supported in part by a Joint Research Program grant from the Japan Arctic Research Network Center. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Copyright information: © 2022 Sugiyama et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.