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Keywords:

  • ancestral origin;
  • HLA and disease;
  • microsatellites;
  • pemphigus vulgaris

Abstract:  Pemphigus is a group of autoimmune blistering diseases of the skin and mucous membranes. The association of pemphigus with human leukocyte antigen (HLA) is widely accepted. It was described in many ethnic groups and in most countries of the world. Studies showed that the associated HLA haplotype in Jewish pemphigus vulgaris (PV) patients is HLA-B38, DRB1*0402, and DQB1*0302; or HLA-B35, DRB1*0402, and DQB1*0302. Similar associations with class II genes were found in Spanish non-Jewish PV patients. As Jews lived in Spain for hundreds of years and many converted to Christianity, the presence of the same HLA haplotype in the Jewish and Spanish PV suggests that they may share the same founder. Microsatellite markers which span the entire major histocompatibility complex (MHC) locus were used as genetic probes. They were utilized to dissect the MHC region in the search for possible common haplotypes, besides HLA, which may provide an answer to this question. It was found that in both cohorts, in addition to HLA class II genes, there are probably genes in the class I region which are associated with PV. Alleles belonging to the associated markers were used to construct haplotypes and to estimate genetic distances. The distance between the two PV cohorts is relatively short, but the distance between the Jewish patients and the Jewish controls is greater compared to the distance between Spanish patients and Spanish controls. In both PV populations, the same microsatellite haplotypes in addition to a common class II haplotype were found, suggesting that both patient populations originated from the same genetic stock and, therefore, share the same ancestral disease gene.