The restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) of DQβ was assessed in a panel of control and insulin-dependent diabetes (IDD) patients who were serologically typed as HLA-DR4 homozygotes or HLA-DR3, DR4 heterozygotes. Digestions of genomic DNA with Barn HI, Bg1 II, Pst I, Xba I, and Hind III revealed a total of 15 RFLPs in the panel of 71 HLA-DR4 chromosomes. These RFLPs were organized into six allelic groups on the basis of segregation analysis in families. Complete RFLP haplotypes for the 5 restriction enzymes could be constructed for 42 of the HLA-DR4 chromosomes. This analysis revealed 18 RFLP haplotypes of DQβ associated with the DR4 chromosomes tested. Two of these haplotypes, designated DQ3.DR4.a and DQ3.DR4.b, accounted for over 50 % of the DR4 chromosomes analyzed. These two haplotypes were antithetical for the RFLPs detected by all five enzymes, indicating that they represent very distinct forms of DQβ. The remaining 16 haplotypes were infrequent or unique and were closely related to either a DQ3.DR4.a or DQ3.DR4.b. Two of the RFLPs detected, a 5.8 kb Bg1 II fragment and a 10.5 kb Barn HI fragment, had increased frequencies in disease-associated chromosomes. However, none of the RFLPs we detected exhibited a statistically significant increase in IDD or control populations. In contrast, the DQ3.DR4.b DQβ haplotype was significantly decreased in IDD-associated DR4 chromosomes. (P=0.04). These results suggest that the DQ3.DR4.b DQβ allele may be protective for the development of IDD.
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