Further diversification of the HLA-B locus in Central American Amerindians: New B(*)39 and B(*)51 alleles in the Kuna of Panama

K. K. Iwanaga, M. Eberle, C. J. Kolman, E. Bermingham, David I. Watkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Several new HLA-B locus alleles have been discovered in South American Amerindians. By contrast, analysis of the MHC class I alleles of North American native populations has revealed few new HLA-B alleles. This suggests that the HLA-B locus is evolving rapidly in South American populations. Here we describe the HLA-B locus alleles present in individuals from a Central American tribe, the Kuna of Panama. Using a sequence-based typing technique that separates alleles by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) followed by direct sequencing, we determined the HLA-B alleles from eight Kunas. Two of the HLA-B alleles present in the Kuna have been previously described in other South American Amerindian populations; one allele has been characterized in a Mexican-American. We characterized two new HLA-B alleles in the Kuna, HLA-B(*)3911 and HLA-B(*)5110. HLA-B(*)3911 differed from HLA-B(*)3905 by only a single nucleotide substitution in exon 3. This substitution resulted in an amino acid replacement of leucine by arginine at residue 156 in the alpha 2 domain. Such a change may affect the repertoire of peptides that are bound by this molecule. HLA-B(*)5110 differed significantly from other HLA-B(*)51 alleles in that it is the result of an unusually large intra-locus recombination event of minimally 216 nucleotides. This recombination results in an allele that is part HLA-B(*)51 and part HLA-B(*)40. Thus, more dramatic recombination events may also play a role in the rapid evolution of the HLA-B locus in Amerindians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-257
Number of pages7
JournalTissue Antigens
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • DGGE
  • HLA-B(*)3911
  • HLA-B(*)5110
  • Kuna Amerindians
  • Sequence typing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Further diversification of the HLA-B locus in Central American Amerindians: New B(*)39 and B(*)51 alleles in the Kuna of Panama'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this