Allelic lineages of the ficolin genes (FCNs) are passed from ancestral to descendant primates

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Tina Hummelshøj, Janna Nissen, Lea Munthe-Fog, Claus Koch, Mads Frost Bertelsen, Peter Garred

The ficolins recognize carbohydrates and acetylated compounds on microorganisms and dying host cells and are able to activate the lectin pathway of the complement system. In humans, three ficolin genes have been identified: FCN1, FCN2 and FCN3, which encode ficolin-1, ficolin-2 and ficolin-3, respectively. Rodents have only two ficolins designated ficolin-A and ficolin-B that are closely related to human ficolin-1, while the rodent FCN3 orthologue is a pseudogene. Ficolin-2 and ficolin-3 have so far only been observed in humans. Thus, we performed a systematic investigation of the FCN genes in non-human primates. The exons and intron-exon boundaries of the FCN1-3 genes were sequenced in the following primate species: chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutan, rhesus macaque, cynomolgus macaque, baboon and common marmoset. We found that the exon organisation of the FCN genes was very similar between all the non-human primates and the human FCN genes. Several variations in the FCN genes were found in more than one primate specie suggesting that they were carried from one species to another including humans. The amino acid diversity of the ficolins among human and non-human primate species was estimated by calculating the Shannon entropy revealing that all three proteins are generally highly conserved. Ficolin-1 and ficolin-2 showed the highest diversity, whereas ficolin-3 was more conserved. Ficolin-2 and ficolin-3 were present in non-human primate sera with the same characteristic oligomeric structures as seen in human serum. Taken together all the FCN genes show the same characteristics in lower and higher primates. The existence of trans-species polymorphisms suggests that different FCN allelic lineages may be passed from ancestral to descendant species.
Original languageEnglish
JournalP L o S One
Volume6
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)e28187
Number of pages17
ISSN1932-6203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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