Using PacBio SMRT data for identification of class I MHC alleles in a wildlife species, Zalophus californianus (California sea lion). Academic Article uri icon


  • High allelic polymorphism and association with disease susceptibility has made the genes encoding major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigen presentation molecules in humans, domesticated animals, and wildlife species of wide interest to ecologists, evolutionary biologists, and health specialists. The often multifaceted polygenism and extreme polymorphism of this immunogenetic system have made it especially difficult to characterize in non-model species. Here we compare and contrast the workflows of traditional Sanger sequencing of plasmid-cloned amplicons to Pacific Biosciences SMRT circular consensus sequencing (CCS) in their ability to capture alleles of MHC class I in a wildlife species where characterization of these genes was absent. We assessed two California sea lions (Zalophus californianus), a species suffering from a high prevalence of an aggressive cancer associated with a sexually transmitted gamma herpesvirus. In this pilot study, SMRT CCS proved superior in identifying more alleles from each animal than the more laborious plasmid cloning/Sanger workflow (12:7, 10:7), and no alleles were identified with the cloning/Sanger approach that were not identified by SMRT CCS. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each approach including cost, allele rarefaction, and sequence fidelity.

published proceedings

  • Infect Genet Evol

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Duckworth, E., Romoser, K. R., Ott, J. A., Deiss, T. C., Gulland, F., & Criscitiello, M. F.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Duckworth, Ellen EM||Romoser, Kaitlyn R||Ott, Jeannine A||Deiss, Thaddeus C||Gulland, Frances MD||Criscitiello, Michael F

publication date

  • January 2021