The contribution of specific HLA Class II alleles in type 1 diabetes is determined by polymorphic amino acid epitopes that direct antigen binding therefore, along with conventional allele frequency analysis, epitope analysis can provide important insights into disease susceptibility. We analyzed the highly heterogeneous Cypriot population for the HLA class II loci of T1DM patients and controls and we report for the first time their allele frequencies. Within our patient cohort we identified a subgroup that did not carry the DRB1*03:01- DQA1*05:01- DQB1*02:01 and DRB1*04:xx- DQA1*03:01- DQB1*03:02 risk haplotypes but a novel recombinant one, DRB1*04:XX- DQA1*03:01- DQB1*02:01 designated DR4- DQ2.3. Through epitope analysis we identified established susceptibility (DQB1 A57, DRB1 H13) and resistance (DQB1 D57) residues as well as other novel susceptibility residues DRB1 Q70, DQB1 L26 and resistance residues DRB1 D70, R70 and DQB1 Y47. Prevalence of susceptibility epitopes was higher in patients and was not exclusively a result of linkage disequilibrium. Residues DRB1 Q70, DQB1 L26 and A57 and a 10 amino acid epitope of DQA1 were the most significant in discriminating risk alleles. An extended haplotype containing these epitopes was carried by 92% of our patient cohort. Sharing of susceptibility epitopes could also explain the absence of risk haplotypes in patients. Finally, many significantly associated epitopes were non-pocket residues suggesting that critical immune functions May exist spanning further from the binding pockets.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Mar 2018|