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Open Access Research article

Genomic analysis reveals extensive gene duplication within the bovine TRB locus

Timothy Connelley1*, Jan Aerts2, Andy Law1 and W Ivan Morrison1

Author affiliations

1 The Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Roslin, EH25 9RG, UK

2 Genome Dynamics and Evolution Group, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, CB10 1SA, UK

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2009, 10:192  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-192

Published: 24 April 2009

Abstract

Background

Diverse TR and IG repertoires are generated by V(D)J somatic recombination. Genomic studies have been pivotal in cataloguing the V, D, J and C genes present in the various TR/IG loci and describing how duplication events have expanded the number of these genes. Such studies have also provided insights into the evolution of these loci and the complex mechanisms that regulate TR/IG expression. In this study we analyze the sequence of the third bovine genome assembly to characterize the germline repertoire of bovine TRB genes and compare the organization, evolution and regulatory structure of the bovine TRB locus with that of humans and mice.

Results

The TRB locus in the third bovine genome assembly is distributed over 5 scaffolds, extending to ~730 Kb. The available sequence contains 134 TRBV genes, assigned to 24 subgroups, and 3 clusters of DJC genes, each comprising a single TRBD gene, 5–7 TRBJ genes and a single TRBC gene. Seventy-nine of the TRBV genes are predicted to be functional. Comparison with the human and murine TRB loci shows that the gene order, as well as the sequences of non-coding elements that regulate TRB expression, are highly conserved in the bovine. Dot-plot analyses demonstrate that expansion of the genomic TRBV repertoire has occurred via a complex and extensive series of duplications, predominantly involving DNA blocks containing multiple genes. These duplication events have resulted in massive expansion of several TRBV subgroups, most notably TRBV6, 9 and 21 which contain 40, 35 and 16 members respectively. Similarly, duplication has lead to the generation of a third DJC cluster. Analyses of cDNA data confirms the diversity of the TRBV genes and, in addition, identifies a substantial number of TRBV genes, predominantly from the larger subgroups, which are still absent from the genome assembly. The observed gene duplication within the bovine TRB locus has created a repertoire of phylogenetically diverse functional TRBV genes, which is substantially larger than that described for humans and mice.

Conclusion

The analyses completed in this study reveal that, although the gene content and organization of the bovine TRB locus are broadly similar to that of humans and mice, multiple duplication events have led to a marked expansion in the number of TRB genes. Similar expansions in other ruminant TR loci suggest strong evolutionary pressures in this lineage have selected for the development of enlarged sets of TR genes that can contribute to diverse TR repertoires.