Of the two rhesus macaque subspecies used for AIDS studies, the Simian immunodeficiency virus-infected Indian rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) is the most established model of HIV infection, providing both insight into pathogenesis and a system for testing novel vaccines. Despite the Chinese rhesus macaque potentially being a more relevant model for AIDS outcomes than the Indian rhesus macaque, the Chinese-origin rhesus macaques have not been well-characterized for their major histocompatibility complex (MHC) composition and function, reducing their greater utilization. In this study, we characterized a total of 50 unique Chinese rhesus macaques from several varying origins for their entire MHC class I allele composition and identified a total of 58 unique complete MHC class I sequences. Only nine of the sequences had been associated with Indian rhesus macaques, and 28/58 (48.3%) of the sequences identified were novel. From all MHC alleles detected, we prioritized Mamu-A1*02201 for functional characterization based on its higher frequency of expression. Upon the development of MHC/peptide binding assays and definition of its associated motif, we revealed that this allele shares peptide binding characteristics with the HLA-B7 supertype, the most frequent supertype in human populations. These studies provide the first functional characterization of an MHC class I molecule in the context of Chinese rhesus macaques and the first instance of HLA-B7 analogy for rhesus macaques.
- Rhesus macaque