This paper presents a meta-analysis of high-resolution human leukocyte antigen (HLA) allele frequency data describing 497 population samples. Most of the datasets were compiled from studies published in eight journals from 1990 to 2007; additional datasets came from the International Histocompatibility Workshops and from the AlleleFrequencies.net database. In all, these data represent approximately 66,800 individuals from throughout the world, providing an opportunity to observe trends that may not have been evident at the time the data were originally analyzed, especially with regard to the relative importance of balancing selection among the HLA loci. Population genetic measures of allele frequency distributions were summarized across populations by locus and geographic region. A role for balancing selection maintaining much of HLA variation was confirmed. Further, the breadth of this meta-analysis allowed the ranking of the HLA loci, with DQA1 and HLA-C showing the strongest balancing selection and DPB1 being compatible with neutrality. Comparisons of the allelic spectra reported by studies since 1990 indicate that most of the HLA alleles identified since 2000 are very-low-frequency alleles. The literature-based allele-count data, as well as maps summarizing the geographic distributions for each allele, are available online.
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