• DGGE;
  • DNA;
  • HLA-DRB;
  • PCR;
  • sequencing;
  • typing

High-resolution HLA-DRB typing is required for bone marrow transplantation between unrelated donors and recipients and also for identification of novel HLA-DRB alleles. Here we describe a method for the unambiguous identification of HLA-DRB alleles using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and direct sequencing. The highly variable second exon of all HLA-DRB1, -DRB3, -DRB4, -DRB5, -DRB6 and -DRB7 alleles was amplified using a single pair of generic DRB-specific primers and alleles were separated by DGGE. DNA was then reamplified from plugs removed from the gel and the sequences of these alleles were determined using fluorescent-based sequencing and allele-assignment software. The validity of this typing procedure was confirmed by identification of HLA-DRB alleles for 17 individuals previously characterized by PCR-SSP and/or cloning and sequencing techniques. We identified 34 different HLA-DRB alleles in these 17 unrelated individuals. Importantly, our analysis revealed HLA-DRB1 alleles which had not been identified using the PCR-SSP typing technique. Additionally, alleles from the HLA-DRB3, -DRB4 and -DRB5 loci were identified. Whereas traditional HLA-DRB typing methods provide limited information or require the use of multiple oligonucleotide primers or probes, our technique provides a reliable, specific and relatively rapid way of identifying all HLA-DRB alleles for high-resolution tissue typing.