Multiple major histocompatibility complex class I genes in Asian anurans: Ontogeny and phylogeny
Amphibians, as the first terrestrial vertebrates, offer a window into early major histocompatibility complex (MHC) evolution. We characterized the MHC class I of two Korean amphibians, the Asiatic toad (Bufo gargarizans) and the Japanese tree frog (Hyla japonica). We found at least four transcribed MHC class I (MHC I) loci, the highest number confirmed in any anuran to date. Furthermore, we identified MHC I transcripts in terrestrial adults, and possibly in aquatic larvae, of both species. We conducted a phylogenetic analysis based on MHC I sequence data and found that B. gargarizans and H. japonica cluster together in the superfamily Nobleobatrachia. We further identified three supertypes shared by the two species. Our results reveal substantial variation in the number of MHC I loci in anurans and suggest that certain supertypes have particular physiochemical properties that may confer pathogen resistance.