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Keywords:

  • African–American;
  • HLA class II;
  • population data;
  • linkage disequilibrium;
  • admixture;
  • transplantation

Molecular genetic techniques were used to type nine loci in the HLA class II region in 241 unrelated African-Americans from New York City (NYC). Several effects attributable to recent genetic admixture were evident: the number of distinct class II alleles and haplotypes was larger in the African-Americans than in people of African or European origin, the allele frequencies were more consistently even, and linkage disequilibrium was present across the entire class II region. The African-American DRB1 allele frequencies almost always fell between frequencies among samples from northern Europe and the Gambia, two possible founding populations. The exceptions are attributed to the contribution of other genetically dissimilar African groups to the African-American gene pool. DRB1 allele frequencies (specifically DRB 1*1501) and some haplotypes of DRB 1-DPB1 were different in our NYC and the 11th International Histocompatibility Workshop (IHW) samples of African-Americans. The high level of allele and haplotype diversity found in African-Americans has important implications for the construction of pools of unrelated potential donors for tissue transplantation.