Modo-UG, a marsupial nonclassical MHC class I locus.
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Modo-UG is a class I gene located in the MHC of the marsupial Monodelphis domestica, the gray, short-tailed opossum. Modo-UG is expressed as three alternatively spliced mRNA forms, all of which encode a transmembrane form with a short cytoplasmic tail that lacks phosphorylation sites typically found in classical class I molecules. The three alternative mRNAs would encode a full-length form, an isoform lacking the alpha2 domain, and one lacking both alpha2 and alpha3 domains. Genotyping both captive-bred and wild M. domestica from different geographic regions revealed no variation in the residues that make up Modo-UG's peptide-binding groove. Modo-UG's low polymorphism is contrasting to that of a nearby class I locus, Modo-UA1, which has a highly polymorphic peptide-binding region. Absence of functional polymorphism in Modo-UG is therefore not a general feature of opossum class I genes but the result of negative selection. Modo-UG is the first MHC linked marsupial class I to be described that appears to clearly have nonclassical features.