The complexity and polymorphism of sequences related to the class I and class II genes of mammalian major histocompatibility complexes (MHCs) were investigated in the tassel-eared squirrel subspecies Sciurus aberti kaibabensis or Kaibab squirrel. Kaibab squirrels are geographically isolated on the Kaibab plateau north of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Genomic DNA from 22 individuals was digested with Eco RI and Barn HI, electrophoresed, blotted, and hybridized with a panel of human class I and class II probes. Sequences homologous to DRα, DRβ, DQα, and DQβ probes were observed. A single, nonpolymorphic DRα-related sequence and multiple, polymorphic DQα-related sequences were observed. Hybridization with DRβ and DQβ probes revealed multiple, polymorphic sequences with such specificity that no bands were observed to hybridize with both probes. The level of polymorphism of β sequences exceeded that observed with α sequences. Further, three Eco RI bands apparently included at least parts of both α and β sequences. Hybridization of genomic blots with the HLA-B7 class I probe revealed a number of bands comparable in size range and number to other mammalian species. However, only a minor percentage of bands were observed to segregate. The inheritance of these five families of sequences appeared to be neither concordant nor random in the sample population. Based on prior conclusions in other species, these class I and class II sequences are presumed to map to the Kabib MHC, TLSA. Although DQα- and DQβ-related sequences were concordantly inherited, segregating sequences in the other families could not be assigned to identifiable, segregating haplotypes. These observations suggest that the present-day TSLA haplotypes have been derived from a limited number of progenitor haplotypes through repeated, intra-TSLA recombination.
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