Diversity of MHC class II DRB alleles in the Eurasian population of the least weasel, Mustela nivalis (Mustelidae: Mammalia)

Yoshinori Nishita, Pavel A. Kosintsev, Voitto Haukisalmi, Risto Väinölä, Evgeniy G. Raichev, Takahiro Murakami, Alexei V. Abramov, Yayoi Kaneko, Ryuichi Masuda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Mustela nivalis, the smallest member of the family Mustelidae, is widely distributed in the Holarctic region and shows high geographical variation. To further understand the molecular evolution of major histocompatibility complex (MHC), we sequenced part of MHC class II DRB gene exon 2, including codons encoding the antigen binding site (ABS), from 35 individuals from Finland, Bulgaria, Russia, and Japan. We detected 27 species-specific alleles (Muni-DRBs), some of which were broadly distributed and others geographically restricted. The ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitution rates for predicted ABS codons exceeded 1, though not statistically significant. In addition, the single break point recombination (SBP) and mixed-effects model evolution (MEME) analyses demonstrated a recombination site and positive selection sites that could be committed to maintain the diversity of Muni-DRBs. In a Bayesian phylogenetic tree, all Muni-DRBs grouped within a Mustelidae clade. The Muni-DRBs showed transspecies polymorphism in related Mustela species that could have appeared to be evolved under long-lasting balancing selection. However, the sister-group patterns suggested that Mustela itatsi and Mustela sibirica alleles are much more closely related to one another than either are to M. nivalis alleles. This result correlates with the large genetic distance separating M. nivalis from M. itatsi or M. sibirica, data for which we have previously reported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-37
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Diversity of MHC class II DRB alleles in the Eurasian population of the least weasel, Mustela nivalis (Mustelidae: Mammalia)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this