Major histocompatibility complex class I chain-related gene A polymorphism and linkage disequilibrium with HLA-B alleles in Euro-Brazilians

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Major histocompatibility complex class I chain-related gene A (MICA) was identified within the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I region and was located 46 kb centromeric from HLA-B locus. It functions as a ligand for human γδ T, CD8 T and natural killer (NK) cells by binding the NKG2D receptor. The aims of the present study were to determine the distribution of MICA alleles and MICA–HLA-B haplotypes in a sample of Euro-Brazilians. Through the combination of three typing methods, polymerase chain reaction (PCR)–sequence-specific oligonucleotide probe, PCR–sequence-specific primer and PCR–restriction fragment length polymorphism, 19 alleles were detected besides a MICA gene deletion in a sample composed by 204 unrelated Euro-Brazilians. The most commonly observed alleles were: MICA*00801 (25.3%), MICA*00201 (17.7%) and MICA*00901 (13.7%). The GCT repeat polymorphism variant A6 was the most commonly found. The most frequent haplotype found in this study was MICA*00901-B*51 (8.1%), followed by haplotypes MICA*00201-B*35 (6.1%) and MICA*00801-B*07 (6.1%). MICA*00801 truncated product, and its low affinity for NKG2D receptor may work as an inhibitor in its putative soluble form. It may also be that selective forces may favor MICA*00801 heterozygosity with NKG2D high affinity MICA alleles enabling activation and inhibition of cytotoxic activity of cells expressing the NKG2D receptor. The possibility of selective neutrality or of balancing selection still provides no explanation for MICA gene polymorphisms. Is it maintained by genetic drift or by the influence of migratory waves? Are there favored alleles while others present the same adaptive value?

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