Antigen and haplotype frequencies at three human leucocyte antigen loci (HLA-A, -B, -C) in the Pawaia of Papua New Guinea

American Journal of Physical Anthropology
K BhatiaG Koki


The genetic profile of the Pawaia, a seminomadic, linguistic isolate from the highlands fringe of Papua New Guinea, is described in terms of antigen and haplotype frequencies at three class I human leucocyte antigen loci (HLA-A, -B, and -C). The Pawaia, like other Papua New Guinea populations, exhibit restricted polymorphisms at all three loci studied, both in the number of alleles segregating and in the level of average heterozygosity. An extremely high frequency (52.9%) of HLA-B27, the antigen implicated in the pathogenesis of seronegative arthropathies, was found. A novel HLA-C locus specificity, CNG, resulting probably from a gene duplication event, was also observed in significant numbers. Although the gene frequency comparisons suggest their strong affinities with the highlanders, the Pawaia haplotypes reveal significant admixture from other neighbouring groups as well. The usefulness of HLA haplotypes in tracing the movements of human populations in the New Guinea area is discussed.


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