The HLA-G molecule plays an important role in immunomodulation. In a previous study carried out on a southern French population our team showed that HLA-G haplotypes, defined by SNPs in the coding region and specific SNPs located in 5′URR and 3′UTR regulatory regions, are associated with differential soluble HLA-G expression (sHLA-G). Furthermore, the structure of these HLA-G haplotypes appears to be conserved in geographically distant populations.
The aim of our study is to confirm these expectations in a sub-Saharan African population and to explore additional factors, such as HLA-A alleles, that might influence sHLA-G expression.
DNA and plasma samples were collected from 229 Malians; HLA-G and HLA-A genotyping were respectively performed by the Snap Shot® method and by Luminex™ technology. sHLA-G dosage was performed using an ELISA kit. HLA-G and HLA-A allelic and haplotypic frequencies were estimated using an EM algorithm from the Gene[Rate] program. Associations between genetic and non genetic parameters with sHLA-G were performed using a non-parametric test with GRAPH PAD Prism 5.
Our results reveal a good conservation of the HLA-G UTR haplotype structure in populations with different origins and demographic histories. These UTR haplotypes appear to be involved in different sHLA-G expression patterns. Specifically, the UTR-2 haplotype was associated with low sHLA-G levels, displaying a dominant negative effect. Furthermore, an allelic effect of both HLA-G and HLA-A, as well as non genetic parameters, such as age and gender possibly linked to osteogenesis and sexual hormones, also seem to be involved in the modulation of sHLA-G.
These data suggest that further investigation in larger cohorts and in populations from various ethnical backgrounds is necessary not only to detect new functional polymorphism in HLA-G regulatory regions, but also to reveal the extent of biological phenomena that influence sHLA-G secretion and this might therefore have an impact on transplantation practice.