Lebanon is located at a continental crossroad between Europe, Africa, and Asia. This region has been the center of wide-scale movements of populations as well as the theater of genetic and cultural trade off among neighboring populations. In this study, HLA-C alleles were characterized by a PCR-SSOP (sequence-specific oligonucleotide probes) hybridization protocol in a sample of 97 Lebanese. A total of 23 alleles were identified with four predominant, Cw*0401, Cw*0602, Cw*0701/06, and Cw*1203, accounting for almost 60% of HLA-C allele frequencies. We included the Lebanese data into a broad analysis of the HLA-C genetic structure of a large set of populations located in Europe, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. Our results indicate that Lebanese exhibit an intermediate genetic profile among the populations from the Middle East, which constitute a rather homogeneous genetic group. In Europe, a high correlation coefficient is found between genetic and geographic distances. In this continent, we also identified a significant genetic frontier following a north-east to south-west axis. This frontier cuts through the Alps and the Pyrenees, thus separating the north-western European populations from those located in the eastern and Mediterranean areas. Finally, the populations from India - Pakistan are very heterogeneous, particularly the Dravidians. Their differentiation has probably been caused by rapid genetic drift under complex influences of cultural, linguistic, and/or religious barriers. Overall, the results show that the HLA-C genetic patterns of these three geographic regions, i.e., the Middle East, Europe, and India-Pakistan, have been shaped by very different genetic histories.
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