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Am J Hum Genet. 1995 Dec;57(6):1436-44.

Discordant patterns of linkage disequilibrium of the peptide-transporter loci within the HLA class II region.

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Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley 94720, USA.


Disequilibrium between genetic markers is expected to decline monotonically with recombinational map distance. We present evidence from the HLA class II region that seems to violate this principle. Pairwise disequilibrium values were calculated from six loci ranging in physical separation from 15 kb to 550 kb. The histocompatibility loci DRB1, DQA1, and DQB1, located on the distal end of the class II region, behave as a single evolutionary unit within which extremely high linkage disequilibrium exists. Lower but still significant levels of disequilibrium are present between these loci and DPB1, located at the proximal edge of the HLA complex. The peptide-transporter loci TAP1 and TAP2, located in the intervening region, reveal no disequilibrium with each other and low or negligible disequilibrium with the flanking loci. The action of two genetic process is required to account for this phenomenon: a recombinational hotspot operating between TAP1 and TAP2, to eliminate disequilibrium between these loci, and at the same time selection operating on particular combinations of alleles across the DR-DP region, to create disequilibrium in the favored haplotypes. The forces producing the patterns of disequilibrium observed here have implications for the mapping of train loci and disease genes: markers of TAP1, for example, would give a false impression as to the influence of DPB1 on a trait known to be associated with DQB1.

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