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J Transl Med. 2004 Sep 13;2(1):30.

Ambiguous allele combinations in HLA Class I and Class II sequence-based typing: when precise nucleotide sequencing leads to imprecise allele identification.

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1
HLA Laboratory, Department of Transfusion Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Warren G, Magnuson Clinical Center, Bethesda, Maryland USA. sadams@cc.nih.gov

Abstract

Sequence-based typing (SBT) is one of the most comprehensive methods utilized for HLA typing. However, one of the inherent problems with this typing method is the interpretation of ambiguous allele combinations which occur when two or more different allele combinations produce identical sequences. The purpose of this study is to investigate the probability of this occurrence. We performed HLA-A,-B SBT for Exons 2 and 3 on 676 donors. Samples were analyzed with a capillary sequencer. The racial distribution of the donors was as follows: 615-Caucasian, 13-Asian, 23-African American, 17-Hispanic and 8-Unknown. 672 donors were analyzed for HLA-A locus ambiguities and 666 donors were analyzed for HLA-B locus ambiguities. At the HLA-A locus a total of 548 total ambiguous allele combinations were identified (548/1344 = 41%). Most (278/548 = 51%) of these ambiguities were due to the fact that Exon 4 analysis was not performed. At the HLA-B locus 322 total ambiguous allele combinations were found (322/1332 = 24%). The HLA-B*07/08/15/27/35/44 antigens, common in Caucasians, produced a large portion of the ambiguities (279/322 = 87%). A large portion of HLA-A and B ambiguous allele combinations can be addressed by utilizing a group-specific primary amplification approach to produce an unambiguous homozygous sequence. Therefore, although the prevalence of ambiguous allele combinations is high, if the resolution of these ambiguities is clinically warranted, methods exist to compensate for this problem.

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