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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999 Apr;84(4):1404-8.

The presence or absence of a retroviral long terminal repeat influences the genetic risk for type 1 diabetes conferred by human leukocyte antigen DQ haplotypes. Belgian Diabetes Registry.

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  • 1Center of Internal Medicine, Medical Department I, University Hospital, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Major genetic susceptibility to type 1 diabetes mellitus maps to the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region on chromosome 6p. During evolution, endogenous retroviral long terminal repeats (LTR) have been integrated at several sites within this region. We analyzed the presence of a solitary HERV-K LTR in the HLA DQ region (DQ-LTR3) and its linkage to DRB1, DQA1, and DQB1 haplotypes derived from 246 German and Belgian families with a patient suffering from type 1 diabetes mellitus. Segregation analysis of 984 HLA DQA1/B1 haplotypes showed that DQ-LTR3 is linked to distinct DQA1 and DQB1 haplotypes but is absent in others. The presence of DQ-LTR3 on HLA DQB1*0302 haplotypes was preferentially transmitted to patients from heterozygous parents (82%; P < 10(-6)), in contrast to only 2 of 7 DQB1*0302 haplotypes without DQ-LTR3. Also, the extended HLA DRB1*0401, DQB1*0302 DQ-LTR3-positive haplotypes were preferentially transmitted (84%; P < 10(-6)) compared with 1 of 6 DR-DQ matched DQ-LTR3 negative haplotypes. DQ-LTR3 is missing on most DQB1*0201 haplotypes, and those LTR3 negative haplotypes were also preferentially transmitted to patients (80%; P < 10(-6)), whereas DQB1*0201 DQ-LTR3-positive haplotypes were less often transmitted to patients (36%). Other DQA1/B1 haplotypes did not differ for DQ-LTR3 between transmitted and nontransmitted haplotypes. Thus, the presence of DQLTR3 on HLA DQB1*0302 and its absence on DQB1*0201 haplotypes are independent genetic risk markers for type 1 diabetes.

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