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Genes Immun. 2005 Jun;6(4):371-4.

Detection of the CCR5-Delta32 HIV resistance gene in Bronze Age skeletons.

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  • 1Historic Anthropology and Human Ecology, Institute of Zoology and Anthropology, Georg-August-University, Göttingen, Germany.

Abstract

A mutant allele of the chemokine receptor CCR5 gene (CCR5-Delta32), which confers resistance to HIV-1 infection, is believed to have originated from a single mutation event in historic times, and rapidly expanded in Caucasian populations, owing to an unknown selective advantage. Among other candidates, the plague bacillus Yersinia pestis was implicated as a potential source of strong selective pressure on European populations during medieval times. Here, we report amplifications of the CCR5-Delta32 DNA sequence from up to 2900-year-old skeletal remains from different burial sites in central Germany and southern Italy. Furthermore, the allele frequency of CCR5-Delta32 in victims of the 14th century plague pandemic in Lubeck/northern Germany was not different from a historic control group. Our findings indicate that this mutation was prevalent already among prehistoric Europeans. The results also argue against the possibility of plague representing a major selective force that caused rapid increase in CCR5-Delta32 gene frequencies within these populations.

PMID:
15815693
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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