The expanded cattle KIR genes are orthologous to the conserved single-copy KIR3DX1 gene of primates
Cattle are the only non-primate species for which expansion of the killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) genes has been reported. We analyzed cattle KIR sequences to determine their relationship to the two divergent lineages of primate KIR: one comprising the KIR3DX1 gene of unknown function, the second comprising all other primate KIR genes, which encode variable major histocompatibility complex class I receptors. Phylogenetics and analysis of repetitive elements shows that cattle KIR subdivide into the same two lineages as primate KIR. Unlike the primates, the lineage of variable and likely functional cattle KIR corresponds to the KIR3DX1 lineage of primate KIR, whereas the variable lineage of primate KIR is represented in cattle by one KIR gene and a related gene fragment.