student profile: Miss Carol Lee


Thesis work

Thesis title: Investigating the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) in wild Suidae and Tayassuidae

Supervisors: Garry LYNCH , Jaime GONGORA

Thesis abstract:

The suidae family (suids, pigs, boars, hogs) and their related taxa Tayassuidae (peccaries) both play important roles in agriculture, their environment and in emerging, re-emerging and zoonotic diseases (wild species). Understanding the interactions between host and pathogen and how host organisms have adapted to the diseases they are exposed to, is a crucial part of immunogenetic studies. Regions under selective pressure, such as the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC), are of particular interest due to its influence on biological traits like immune recognition and disease susceptibility. It’s role makes it a suitable candidate region to study the mechanism and significance of molecular changes in wild pigs and their environment. This allows better understanding of genetic polymoprhisms in response to pathogenic pressure.  Within the Suidae family, the MHC of the domestic pig (Sus scrofa) is referred to as the Swine Leukocyte Antigen (SLA) complex. The haplotype Hp1a.1 has been extensively sequenced and annotated, whereas information on wild species of pigs and peccaries has been limited. Heterologous capture has allowed us to generate consensus sequences for the MHC region of 11 wild species of Suidae and Tayassuidae, representing 7 genera and 148 genes. Preliminary studies show that the Tumor necrosis factor gene exhibits a phylogenetics topology consistent with the species tree, similar to ~50% of genes investigated thus far. This can give insight into the evolution of the genomic region since these two families diverge from their common ancestor 35-39 million years ago and provide an important genomic resource to investigate and explore the genetic underpinnings of the immune response to diseases in those species. Further investigation into genetic diversity between species also show some unique differences between sub-Saharan African species and Eurasian species.

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