Evidence of MHC class I and II influencing viral and helminth infection via the microbiome in a non-human primate

PLoS Pathog. 2021 Nov 8;17(11):e1009675. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1009675. eCollection 2021 Nov.


Until recently, the study of major histocompability complex (MHC) mediated immunity has focused on the direct link between MHC diversity and susceptibility to parasite infection. However, MHC genes can also influence host health indirectly through the sculpting of the bacterial community that in turn shape immune responses. We investigated the links between MHC class I and II gene diversity gut microbiome diversity and micro- (adenovirus, AdV) and macro- (helminth) parasite infection probabilities in a wild population of non-human primates, mouse lemurs of Madagascar. This setup encompasses a plethora of underlying interactions between parasites, microbes and adaptive immunity in natural populations. Both MHC classes explained shifts in microbiome composition and the effect was driven by a few select microbial taxa. Among them were three taxa (Odoribacter, Campylobacter and Prevotellaceae-UCG-001) which were in turn linked to AdV and helminth infection status, correlative evidence of the indirect effect of the MHC via the microbiome. Our study provides support for the coupled role of MHC diversity and microbial flora as contributing factors of parasite infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / physiology
  • Adenoviridae Infections / immunology*
  • Adenoviridae Infections / virology
  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / growth & development*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Cheirogaleidae / genetics
  • Cheirogaleidae / immunology*
  • Cheirogaleidae / parasitology
  • Cheirogaleidae / virology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Genes, MHC Class I*
  • Genes, MHC Class II*
  • Helminthiasis / immunology*
  • Helminthiasis / parasitology
  • Helminths / physiology
  • Polymorphism, Genetic

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.12659927

Grant support

JUG was funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung SuLaMa/BMBF (FKZ 01LL0914) (https://www.bmbf.de/en/research-funding-1411.html) JUG was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG, SPP 1596 “Ecology and Species Barriers in Emerging Viral Diseases”, Ga 342/19-1, (https://www.dfg.de/en/research_funding/index.html) The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.