New recombinant HLA-B alleles in a tribe of South American Amerindians indicate rapid evolution of MHC class I loci

David I. Watkins, Stephen N. McAdam, Xiaomin Liu, Clarice R. Strang, Edgar L. Milford, Cindy G. Levine, Theodore L. Garber, Alex L. Dogon, Carol I. Lord, Steven H. Ghim, Gary M. Troup, Austin L. Hughes, Norman L. Letvin

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Abstract

EVIDENCE suggests that the New World was colonized only 11,000-40,000 years ago by Palaeo-Indians1. The descendants of these Palaeo-Indians therefore provide a unique opportunity to study the effects of selection on major histocompatibility complex class I genes over a short period. Here we analyse the class I alleles of the Waorani of South America and the Zuni of North America. Four of the Waorani HLA-B alleles were new functional variants which could be accounted for by intralocus recombination. In contrast, all of the Zuni HLA-A and -B molecules were present in Caucasians and orientals. This suggests that the new Waorani HLA-B variants arose in South America. The description of four new HLA-B alleles in the Waorani and another five new HLA-B alleles from two other tribes of South American Amerindians2 indicates that the HLA-B locus can evolve rapidly in isolated populations. These studies underline the importance of gathering genetic data on endangered native human populations3.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-333
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume357
Issue number6376
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992
Externally publishedYes

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Watkins, D. I., McAdam, S. N., Liu, X., Strang, C. R., Milford, E. L., Levine, C. G., Garber, T. L., Dogon, A. L., Lord, C. I., Ghim, S. H., Troup, G. M., Hughes, A. L., & Letvin, N. L. (1992). New recombinant HLA-B alleles in a tribe of South American Amerindians indicate rapid evolution of MHC class I loci. Nature, 357(6376), 329-333. https://doi.org/10.1038/357329a0