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Letters to Nature
Nature 357, 326 - 329 (28 May 1992); doi:10.1038/357326a0

Unusual HLA-B alleles in two tribes of Brazilian Indians

Mônica P. Belich*, J. Alejandro Madrigal*, William H. Hildebrand*, Jacqueline Zemmour*, Robert C. Williams, Roberta Luz, Maria Luiza Petzl-Erler & Peter Parham*

*Departments of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA
Department of Genetics, Federal University of Paraná, 81531 Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
Histocompatibility Laboratory, Blood Systems Inc., 6220 East Oak Street, Scottsdale, Arizona 85257, USA

THE Kaingang and Guarani are culturally and linguistically distinct tribes of southern Brazil1,2. Like all Amerindian groups3,4 they show limited HLA polymorphism, which probably reflects the small founder populations that colonized America by overland migration from Asia 11,000–40,000 years ago,5,6 We find the nucleotide sequences of HLA-B alleles from the Kaingang and Guarani to be distinct from those characterized in Caucasian, oriental and other populations7. By comparison, the HLA-A and C alleles are familiar. These results and those reported in the accompanying paper8 on the Waorani of Ecuador reveal that a marked evolution of HLA-B has occurred since humans first entered South America. New alleles have been formed through recombination between pre-existing alleles, not by point mutation, giving rise to distinctive diversification of HLA-B in different South American Indian tribes.

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