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HLA-G is a nonclassical class I MHC molecule of unknown function expressed on human trophoblast. The level of polymorphism at the HLA-G locus is of considerable importance, since the paternally inherited gene product is exposed to the maternal immune system during pregnancy. However, previous studies of HLA-G polymorphism using genomic DNA samples have produced conflicting results. Our aim was to investigate polymorphism in trophoblast HLA-G mRNA from pregnancies in ten Caucasian and twelve Afro-Caribbean women by RT-PCR. A similar PCR protocol was also applied to umbilical cord blood genomic DNA from two Caucasian and two Afro-Caribbean neonates. Caucasian cDNA yielded only two different sequences: G*01011, and one containing a previously reported synonymous substitution. Afro-Caribbean samples yielded these sequences as well as one previously reported conservative (leucine-to-isoleucine) substitution. PCR amplification from genomic DNA samples from both populations using previously published primer pairs generated sequences containing multiple substitutions, many of which were nonsynonymous. More than two sequences were produced from genomic DNA from each individual. In contrast, amplification from the same genomic DNA using new primers complementary to exons of the HLA-G gene yielded the same few sequences generated from cDNA. These results suggest that polymorphism at the HLA-G locus is extremely limited in Caucasian and Afro-Caribbean populations. This suggests that spurious polymorphism has been reported in African Americans due to the use of intron-complementary PCR primers on genomic DNA samples. The monomorphic nature of HLA-G may allow trophoblast to carry out the immunological functions of class I-bearing tissues without compromising successful pregnancy.

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Immunol

Publication Date

15/08/1999

Volume

163

Pages

2023 - 2027

Keywords

Africa, African Continental Ancestry Group, Caribbean Region, Chorion, DNA, DNA Primers, DNA, Complementary, European Continental Ancestry Group, Exons, Female, Fetal Blood, Fetus, Gene Amplification, HLA Antigens, HLA-G Antigens, Histocompatibility Antigens Class I, Humans, Infant, Newborn, Introns, Polymorphism, Genetic, Pregnancy, RNA, Messenger