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Summary

The present study is a contribution to the definition of the linkage disequilibrium relationship of MICA and MICB with adjacent loci and to the characterization of extended HLA haplotypes. These issues are of importance for the identification of disease associations and for a better definition of donor–recipient compatibility in bone-marrow grafts through the typing of haplospecific markers. The distribution of the five alleles of MICA and the 13 alleles of MICB microsatellites, located, respectively, in MICA transmembrane exon 5 and in MICB intron 1, was examined in 133 healthy Italian individuals previously typed for HLA class I, class II and complement loci and for the TNFa microsatellite. The MICB microsatellite was also analysed in 49 HTCLs for which MICA typing was already available. Very strong linkage disequilibria with HLA-B and TNFa were detected in the Italian population for both MICA and MICB microsatellite alleles, in spite of the high mutability rate of the larger MICB alleles. Some strong associations were also detected between MICB and DRB1. The strongest associations (P < 0.001, D′ > 0.7) were those of MICA-A4 with HLA-B18, B27 and TNFa1, MICA-A5 with HLA-B35, B61 and B62, MICA-A5.1 with HLA-B7, B8, B13, B63 and MICB-CA24, MICA-A6 with HLA-B51, MICA-A9 with HLA-B39, B57 and TNFa2, MICB-CA14 with HLA-B14, B27 and TNFa1, MICB-CA15 with HLA-B52, TNFa4 and TNFa13, MICB-CA17 with HLA-B7 and TNFa11, MICB-CA18 with HLA-B13 and TNFa7, MICB-CA22 with HLA-B57, and MICB-CA24 with HLA-B8 and TNFa2. From pairwise associations in the random panel and results for the homozygous cell lines it was possible to deduce the MICA and MICB microsatellite alleles present in many of the well-known Caucasoid extended haplotypes.