New insights into the role of MHC diversity in devil facial tumour disease
journal contributionposted on 2012-01-01, 00:00 authored by A Lane, Y Cheng, B Wright, R Hamede, L Levan, M Jones, Beata UjvariBeata Ujvari, K Belov
Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) is a fatal contagious cancer that has decimated Tasmanian devil populations. The tumour has spread without invoking immune responses, possibly due to low levels of Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) diversity in Tasmanian devils. Animals from a region in north-western Tasmania have lower infection rates than those in the east of the state. This area is a genetic transition zone between sub-populations, with individuals from north-western Tasmania displaying greater diversity than eastern devils at MHC genes, primarily through MHC class I gene copy number variation. Here we test the hypothesis that animals that remain healthy and tumour free show predictable differences at MHC loci compared to animals that develop the disease.