Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Nov 3;106(44):18692-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0906051106. Epub 2009 Oct 16.

Co-evolution of KIR2DL3 with HLA-C in a human population retaining minimal essential diversity of KIR and HLA class I ligands.

Author information

  • 1Department of Structural Biology and Microbiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Natural killer (NK) cells contribute to immunity and reproduction. Guiding these functions, and NK cell education, are killer cell Ig-like receptors (KIR), NK cell receptors that recognize HLA class I. In most human populations, these highly polymorphic receptors and ligands combine with extraordinary diversity. To assess how much of this diversity is necessary, we studied KIR and HLA class I at high resolution in the Yucpa, a small South Amerindian population that survived an approximate 15,000-year history of population bottleneck and epidemic infection, including recent viral hepatitis. The Yucpa retain the three major HLA epitopes recognized by KIR. Through balancing selection on a few divergent haplotypes the Yucpa maintain much of the KIR variation found worldwide. HLA-C*07, the strongest educator of C1-specific NK cells, has reached unusually high frequency in the Yucpa. Concomitantly, weaker variants of the C1 receptor, KIR2DL3, were selected and have largely replaced the form of KIR2DL3 brought by the original migrants from Asia. HLA-C1 and KIR2DL3 homozygosity has previously been correlated with resistance to viral hepatitis. Selection of weaker forms of KIR2DL3 in the Yucpa can be seen as compensation for the high frequency of the potent HLA-C*07 ligand. This study provides an estimate of the minimal KIR-HLA system essential for long-term survival of a human population. That it contains all functional elements of KIR diversity worldwide, attests to the competitive advantage it provides, not only for surviving epidemic infections, but also for rebuilding populations once infection has passed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center