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Diversity of HLA among Taiwan’s indigenous tribes and the Ivatans in the Philippines

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Taiwan’s indigenous tribes, especially the east coast tribes are not only closely related to Oceania but also with the Australian aborigines. The Ivatans of the Batan Islands in the Philippines are closely related to the Yami tribe of Taiwan as cultural and anthropological studies have shown. Many DRB1 alleles (*15021, *16021, *0404, *04051, *11011, *12021, *1401, *08032) have high allele frequencies (>20%) in certain tribes, suggesting Taiwan’s indigenous tribes are homogeneous populations. These high frequency DRB1 alleles and also some HLA-A-B-DR haplotypes found in Taiwan’s indigenous tribes are also found in Oceania, Australian aborigines, south and north east Asians and American Indians, lending further support to our previous findings that Taiwan’s indigenous tribes are more or less genetically related to both northern and southern Asians, possibly as well as Amerindians. HLA-A*2402 with a remarkably high frequency among Taiwan’s indigenous tribes (52.1%∼86.3%), especially the central mountain tribes, possibly represents not only founder effects and population bottlenecks, but also positive selection of the allele. Although the Ami tribe has the highest ever reported frequencies of the DRB1*0404 and DRB1*0405, these alleles have not been found to be associated with rheumatoid arthritis as previously described for Caucasians. In addition, DRB1*1401 has a high frequency in most tribes but is not associated with psoriasis as previously indicated in some studies, suggesting the involvement of some additional genetic and/or environmental factors mechanism in the development of these diseases.
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Keywords: HLA-A, DRB1 alleles; Ivatans; Taiwan’s indigenous groups; anthropology; disease association

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Transfusion Medicine Research Laboratory and Immunohematology Reference Laboratory, Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan 2: Kanagawa Red Cross Blood Center, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan 3: Japanese Red Cross Central Blood Center, Tokyo, Japan 4: Department of Human Genetics, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Publication date: July 1, 2001

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