The simultaneous typing of five-HLA loci at high resolution and the availability of pedigree data allowed us to characterize extended five-locus phased haplotypes in 124 Nigerian families and to compare the observed frequencies with those expected by an expectation-maximization algorithm for unphased data. Despite the occurrence of some frequent alleles at each locus (e.g. B*53:01, which is assumed to protect against Plasmodium falciparum), as many as 82% of the sampled individuals carry two unique five-locus haplotypes and only three extended haplotypes with frequency above 1% exhibit significant linkage disequilibrium. Although preliminary, these results reveal an extreme level of HLA diversity in the Nigerian population, which reflects both its multi-ethnic composition and the very ancient demographic history of African populations.
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