[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neutralizing antibodies (Nabs) are thought to play an important role in prevention and control of HIV-1 infection and should be targeted by an AIDS vaccine. It is critical to understand how HIV-1 induces Nabs by analyzing viral sequences in both tested viruses and sera. Neutralization susceptibility to antibodies in autologous and heterologous plasma was determined for multiple Envs (3-6) from each of 15 subtype-C-infected individuals. Heterologous neutralization was divided into two distinct groups: plasma with strong, cross-reactive neutralization (n=9) and plasma with weak neutralization (n=6). Plasma with cross-reactive heterologous Nabs also more potently neutralized contemporaneous autologous viruses. Analysis of Env sequences in plasma from both groups revealed a three-amino-acid substitution pattern in the V4 region that was associated with greater neutralization potency and breadth. Identification of such potential neutralization signatures may have important implications for the development of HIV-1 vaccines capable of inducing Nabs to subtype C HIV-1.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Functional human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) env genes have been widely used for vaccine design, neutralization assays, and pathogenesis studies. However, obtaining bona fide functional env clones is a time consuming and labor intensive process. A new high throughput method has been developed to characterize HIV-1 env genes. Multiple rev/env gene cassettes were obtained from each of seven HIV-1 strains using single genome amplification (SGA) PCR. The cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter was amplified separately by PCR. A promoter PCR (pPCR) method was developed to link both PCR products using an overlapping PCR method. Pseudovirions were generated by cotransfection of pPCR products and pSG3 Delta env backbone into 293T cells. After infecting TZM-bl cells, 75 out of 87 (86%) of the rev/env gene cassettes were functional. Pseudoviruses generated with pPCR products or corresponding plasmid DNA showed similar sensitivity to six HIV-1 positive sera and three monoclonal antibodies, suggesting neutralization properties are not altered in pPCR pseudovirions. Furthermore, sufficient amounts of pseudovirions can be obtained for a large number of neutralization assays. The new pPCR method eliminates cloning, transformation, and plasmid DNA preparation steps in the generation of HIV-1 pseudovirions. This allows for quick analysis of multiple env genes from HIV-1 infected individuals.
Journal of Virological Methods 08/2007; 143(1):104-11. · 1.90 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Defining viral dynamics in natural infection is prognostic of disease progression and could prove to be important for vaccine trial design as viremia may be a likely secondary end point in phase III HIV efficacy trials. There are limited data available on the early course of plasma viral load in subtype C HIV-1 infection in Africa. Plasma viral load and CD4+ T cell counts were monitored in 51 recently infected subjects for 9 months. Individuals were recruited from four southern African countries: Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and South Africa and the median estimated time from seroconversion was 8.9 months (interquartile range, 5.7-14 months). All were infected with subtype C HIV-1 and median viral loads, measured using branched DNA, ranged from 3.82-4.02 log10 RNA copies/ml from 2-24 months after seroconversion. Viral loads significantly correlated with CD4+ cell counts (r=-0.5, p<0.0001; range, 376-364 cells/mm3) and mathematical modeling defined a median set point of 4.08 log10 (12 143 RNA copies/ml), which was attained approximately 17 months after seroconversion. Comparative measurements using three different viral load platforms (bDNA, Amplicor, and NucliSens) confirmed that viremia in subtype C HIV-1-infected individuals within the first 2 years of infection did not significantly differ from that found in early subtype B infection. In conclusion, the course of plasma viremia, as described in this study, will allow a useful baseline comparator for understanding disease progression in an African setting and may be useful in the design of HIV-1 vaccine trials in southern Africa.
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses 05/2005; 21(4):285-91. · 2.71 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Characterization of optimal CTL epitopes in Gag can provide crucial information for evaluation of candidate vaccines in populations at the epicenter of the HIV-1 epidemic. We screened 38 individuals with recent subtype C HIV-1 infection using overlapping consensus C Gag peptides and hypothesized that unique HLA-restricting alleles in the southern African population would determine novel epitope identity. Seventy-four percent of individuals recognized at least one Gag peptide pool. Ten epitopic regions were identified across p17, p24, and p2p7p1p6, and greater than two-thirds of targeted regions were directed at: TGTEELRSLYNTVATLY (p17, 35%); GPKEPFRDYVDRFFKTLRAEQATQDV (p24, 19%); and RGGKLDKWEKIRLRPGGKKHYMLKHL (p17, 15%). After alignment of these epitopic regions with consensus M and a consensus subtype C sequence from the cohort, it was evident that the regions targeted were highly conserved. Fine epitope mapping revealed that five of nine identified optimal Gag epitopes were novel: HLVWASREL, LVWASRELERF, LYNTVATLY, PFRDYVDRFF, and TLRAEQATQD, and were restricted by unique HLA-Cw*08, HLA-A*30/B*57, HLA-A*29/B*44, and HLA-Cw*03 alleles, respectively. Notably, three of the mapped epitopes were restricted by more than one HLA allele. Although these epitopes were novel and restricted by unique HLA, they overlapped or were embedded within previously described CTL epitopes from subtype B HIV-1 infection. These data emphasize the promiscuous nature of epitope binding and support our hypothesis that HLA diversity between populations can shape fine epitope identity, but may not represent a constraint for universal recognition of Gag in highly conserved domains.
The Journal of Immunology 11/2004; 173(7):4607-17. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A consensus conference was held to discuss priorities for antiretroviral therapy (ART) research in Zambia, one of the world's most heavily HIV-afflicted nations. Zambia, like other resource-limited settings, has increasing access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) because of declining drug costs, use of government-purchased generic medications, and increased global donations. For sustained delivery of care with HAART in a resource-constrained medical and public health context, operational research is required and clinical trials are desirable. The priority areas for research are most relevant today given the increasing availability of HAART.
A conference was held in Lusaka, Zambia, in January 2002 to discuss priority areas for ART research in Zambia, with participants drawn from a broad cross section of Zambian society. State-of-the-art reviews and 6 intensive small group discussions helped to formulate a suggested research agenda.
Conference participants believed that the most urgent research priorities were to assess how therapeutic resources could be applied for the greatest overall benefit and to minimize the impact of nonadherence and viral resistance. Identified research priorities were as follows:Conference participants recommended that HIV-related clinical care and research be integrated within home-based care services and operated within the existing health delivery structures to ensure sustainability, reduce costs, and strengthen the structures.
Our consensus was that antiretroviral clinical trials and operational research are essential for Zambia to address the new challenges arising from increasing ART availability. There is global consensus that antiretroviral clinical trials in resource-constrained countries are possible, and the capacity for such trials should be developed further in Africa.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An understanding of the relationship between the breadth and magnitude of T-cell epitope responses and viral loads is important for the design of effective vaccines. For this study, we screened a cohort of 46 subtype C human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-infected individuals for T-cell responses against a panel of peptides corresponding to the complete subtype C genome. We used a gamma interferon ELISPOT assay to explore the hypothesis that patterns of T-cell responses across the expressed HIV-1 genome correlate with viral control. The estimated median time from seroconversion to response for the cohort was 13 months, and the order of cumulative T-cell responses against HIV proteins was as follows: Nef > Gag > Pol > Env > Vif > Rev > Vpr > Tat > Vpu. Nef was the most intensely targeted protein, with 97.5% of the epitopes being clustered within 119 amino acids, constituting almost one-third of the responses across the expressed genome. The second most targeted region was p24, comprising 17% of the responses. There was no correlation between viral load and the breadth of responses, but there was a weak positive correlation (r = 0.297; P = 0.034) between viral load and the total magnitude of responses, implying that the magnitude of T-cell recognition did not contribute to viral control. When hierarchical patterns of recognition were correlated with the viral load, preferential targeting of Gag was significantly (r = 0.445; P = 0.0025) associated with viral control. These data suggest that preferential targeting of Gag epitopes, rather than the breadth or magnitude of the response across the genome, may be an important marker of immune efficacy. These data have significance for the design of vaccines and for interpretation of vaccine-induced responses.
Journal of Virology 04/2004; 78(7):3233-43. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Heterosexual transmission accounts for the majority of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) infections worldwide, yet the viral properties that determine transmission fitness or outgrowth have not been elucidated. Here we show, for eight heterosexual transmission pairs, that recipient viruses were monophyletic, encoding compact, glycan-restricted envelope glycoproteins. These viruses were also uniquely sensitive to neutralization by antibody from the transmitting partner. Thus, the exposure of neutralizing epitopes, which are lost in chronic infection because of immune escape, appears to be favored in the newly infected host. This reveals characteristics of the envelope glycoprotein that influence HIV-1 transmission and may have implications for vaccine design.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Codon usage optimization of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) structural genes has been shown to increase protein expression in vitro as well as in the context of DNA vaccines in vivo; however, all optimized genes reported thus far are derived from HIV-1 (group M) subtype B viruses. Here, we report the generation and biological characterization of codon usage-optimized gag, pol, env (gp160, gp140, gp120), and nef genes from a primary (nonrecombinant) HIV-1 subtype C isolate. After transfection into 293T cells, optimized subtype C genes expressed one to two orders of magnitude more protein (as determined by immunoblot densitometry) than the corresponding wild-type constructs. This effect was most pronounced for gp160, gp140, Gag, and Pol (>250-fold), but was also observed for gp120 and Nef (45- and 20-fold, respectively). Optimized gp160- and gp140-derived glycoproteins were processed, incorporated into virus particles, and mediated virus entry when expressed in trans to complement an env-minus HIV-1 provirus. Mice immunized with optimized gp140 DNA developed antibody as well as CD4+ and CD8+ T cell immune responses that were orders of magnitude greater than those of mice immunized with wild-type gp140 DNA. These data confirm and extend previous studies of codon usage optimization of HIV-1 genes to the most prevalent group M subtype. Our panel of matched optimized and wild-type subtype C genes should prove valuable for studies of protein expression and function, the generation of subtype-specific immunological reagents, and the production of DNA-based sub-unit vaccines directed against a broader spectrum of viruses.
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses 10/2003; 19(9):817-23. · 2.71 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sexual behavior following voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT) is described in 963 cohabiting heterosexual couples with one HIV positive and one HIV negative partner ('discordant couples'). Biological markers were used to assess the validity of self-report.
Couples were recruited from a same-day VCT center in Lusaka, Zambia. Sexual exposures with and without condoms were recorded at 3-monthly intervals. Sperm detected on vaginal smears, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) including HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, and Trichomonas vaginalis were assessed.
Less than 3% of couples reported current condom use prior to VCT. In the year after VCT, > 80% of reported acts of intercourse in discordant couples included condom use. Reporting 100% condom use was associated with 39-70% reductions in biological markers; however most intervals with reported unprotected sex were negative for all biological markers. Under-reporting was common: 50% of sperm and 32% of pregnancies and HIV transmissions were detected when couples had reported always using condoms. Positive laboratory tests for STD and reported extramarital sex were relatively infrequent. DNA sequencing confirmed that 87% of new HIV infections were acquired from the spouse.
Joint VCT prompted sustained but imperfect condom use in HIV discordant couples. Biological markers were insensitive but provided evidence for a significant under-reporting of unprotected sex. Strategies that encourage truthful reporting of sexual behavior and sensitive biological markers of exposure are urgently needed. The impact of prevention programs should be assessed with both behavioral and biological measures.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The commercial assays commonly used to quantify plasma human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA in clinical settings were designed to assess HIV-1 subtype B. We compared the performance of 4 commercial assays (Amplicor versions 1.0 and 1.5 [Roche]; Quantiplex [Chiron]; and NASBA HIV-1 RNA QT [Organon Teknika]) in detecting and quantifying HIV-1 RNA in plasma from HIV-infected persons from Zambia, an area where HIV-1 subtype C is predominant. Each assay detected plasma HIV-1 RNA, but they do not all measure statistically similar quantities of plasma HIV-1 RNA.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The setpoint of viral RNA concentration (viral load [VL]) during chronic human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection reflects a virus-host equilibration closely related to CD8(+) cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) responses, which rely heavily on antigen presentation by the human major histocompatibility complex (MHC) (i.e., HLA) class I molecules. Differences in HIV-1 VL among 259 mostly clade C virus-infected individuals (137 females and 122 males) in the Zambia-UAB HIV Research Project (ZUHRP) were associated with several HLA class I alleles and haplotypes. In particular, general linear model analyses revealed lower log(10) VL among those with HLA allele B*57 (P = 0.002 [without correction]) previously implicated in favorable response and in those with HLA B*39 and A*30-Cw*03 (P = 0.002 to 0.016); the same analyses also demonstrated higher log(10) VL among individuals with A*02-Cw*16, A*23-B*14, and A*23-Cw*07 (P = 0.010 to 0.033). These HLA effects remained strong (P = 0.0002 to 0.075) after adjustment for age, gender, and duration of infection and persisted across three orders of VL categories (P = 0.001 to 0.084). In contrast, neither B*35 (n = 15) nor B*53 (n = 53) showed a clear disadvantage such as that reported elsewhere for these closely related alleles. Other HLA associations with unusually high (A*68, B*41, B*45, and Cw*16) or low (B*13, Cw*12, and Cw*18) VL were either unstable or reflected their tight linkage respecting disequilibria with other class I variants. The three consistently favorable HLA class I variants retained in multivariable models and in alternative analyses were present in 30.9% of subjects with the lowest (<10,000 copies per ml) and 3.1% of those with the highest (>100,000) VL. Clear differential distribution of HLA profiles according to level of viremia suggests important host genetic contribution to the pattern of immune control and escape during HIV-1 infection.
Journal of Virology 08/2002; 76(16):8276-84. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) transmissions in sub-Saharan Africa are believed to occur between married adults who are discordant for their HIV-1 infection status; however, no studies to date have investigated the molecular epidemiology of such transmission events. Here we report the genetic characterization of HIV-1 strains from 149 transmission pairs that were identified prospectively in a cohort of discordant couples in Lusaka, Zambia. Subgenomic gag, gp120, gp41, and/or long terminal repeat regions were amplified by PCR analysis of uncultured blood samples from both partners and sequenced without interim cloning. Pairwise genetic distances were calculated for the regions analyzed and compared to those of subtype-specific reference sequences as well as local controls. Sequence relationships were also examined by phylogenetic tree analysis. By these approaches, epidemiological linkage was established for the majority of transmission pairs. Viruses from 129 of the 149 couples (87%) were very closely related and clustered together in phylogenetic trees in a statistically highly significant manner. In contrast, viruses from 20 of the 149 couples (13%) were only distantly related in two independent genomic regions, thus ruling out transmission between the two partners. The great majority (95%) of transmitted viruses were of subtype C origin, although representatives of subtypes A, D, G, and J were also identified. There was no evidence for extensive transmission networks within the cohort, although two phylogenetic subclusters of viruses infecting two couples each were identified. Taken together, these data indicate that molecular epidemiological analyses of presumed transmission pairs are both feasible and required to determine behavioral, virological, and immunological correlates of heterosexual transmission in sub-Saharan Africa with a high level of accuracy.
Journal of Virology 02/2002; 76(1):397-405. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: More than 80% of the world's HIV-infected adults live in sub-Saharan Africa, where heterosexual transmission is the predominant mode of spread. The virologic and immunologic correlates of female-to-male (FTM) and male-to-female (MTF) transmission are not well understood. A total of 1022 heterosexual couples with discordant HIV-1 serology results (one partner HIV infected, the other HIV uninfected) were enrolled in a prospective study in Lusaka, Zambia and monitored at 3-month intervals. A nested case-control design was used to compare 109 transmitters and 208 nontransmitting controls with respect to plasma HIV-1 RNA (viral load, VL), virus isolation, and CD4(+) cell levels. Median plasma VL was significantly higher in transmitters than nontransmitters (123,507 vs. 51,310 copies/ml, p < 0.001). In stratified multivariate Cox regression analyses, the risk ratio (RR) for FTM transmission was 7.6 (95% CI: 2.3, 25.5) for VL > or = 100,000 copies/ml and 4.1 (95% CI: 1.2, 14.1) for VL between 10,000 and 100,000 copies/ml compared with the reference group of <10,000 copies/ml. Corresponding RRs for MTF transmission were 2.1 and 1.2, respectively, with 95% CI both bounding 1. Only 3 of 41 (7%) female transmitters had VL < 10,000 copies/ml compared with 32 of 93 (34%) of female nontransmitters (p < 0.001). The transmission rate within couples was 7.7/100 person-years and did not differ from FTM (61/862 person-years) and MTF (81/978 person-years) transmission. We conclude that the association between increasing plasma viral load was strong for female to male transmission, but was only weakly predictive of male to female transmission in Zambian heterosexual couples. FTM and MTF transmission rates were similar. These data suggest gender-specific differences in the biology of heterosexual transmission.
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses 08/2001; 17(10):901-10. · 2.71 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic variations at the closely related tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha or TNF) and lymphotoxin alpha (LTalpha, formerly TNFbeta) loci have been well documented in various human populations, and several haplotypes spanning the MHC class I and class II loci are known to carry specific TNF alleles. Genotyping of the TNFc microsatellite within the first intron of LTalpha in 285 Rwandans and 319 Zambians revealed two predominant alleles, c1 at frequencies of 0.598 and 0.683 and c2 at 0.384 and 0.307, respectively. Overall, the distribution of TNFc genotypes containing the major alleles conformed well to the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium in both cohorts. Two previously unrecognized minor TNFc alleles were also detected: the first, designated c0, was found in 10 native Africans and was the only allele present in 10 chimpanzees; the second, designated c3, was seen in 6 other African patients. Further genotyping at loci for HLA class I, class II, and for transporters associated with antigen processing, subunit 1 (TAP1) in those 16 individuals suggested a tight, stable extended haplotype involving c0 and 26Asn (LTalpha)-TNF3 (TNF promoter -238A and -308G)-DRB1*1503-DQB1*0602-TAP1.2 (333Val)-TAP1.4 (637Gly). The c3 allele was observed on another extended haplotype with 26Thr (LTalpha)-TNF1 (TNF promoter -238G and -308G)-DQB1*0102-DQB1*0501-TAP1*0101 (333Ile and 637Asp). The c3-tagged haplotype further extended to Cw*15 at the HLA class I C locus, but no specific A or B alleles could be unambiguously assigned. Positive associations between c2 homozygosity and HIV-1 seronegative status in both Rwandans and Zambians (odds ratio = 2.03 and 2.00, p = 0.04 and 0.07, respectively) had little effect on the haplotype assignments. These findings suggest a preferential expansion of the human TNFc dinucleotide (CT/AG) repeat sequence and further imply the existence of two extended MHC lineages that have not been disrupted by recombinations.
Human Immunology 04/2001; 62(3):269-78. · 2.30 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genetic variations in the locus encoding the transporter associated with antigen processing, subunit 1 (TAP1), were systematically studied using samples from Caucasians, Africans, Brazilians, and compared with data from chimpanzees. PCR-amplified genomic sequences corresponding to the 11 exons were analyzed by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) and sequencing. Six nonsynonymous and 2 synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were found to be common in one ethnic group or another, and they involved codons 254 (Gly-GGC/Gly-GGT) in exon 3, 333 (Ile-ATC/Val-GTC) in exon 4, 370 (Ala-GCT/Val-GTT) in exon 5, 458 (Val-GTG/Leu-TTG) in exon 6, 518 (Val-GTC/Ile-ATC) in exon 7, 637 (Asp-GAC/Gly-GGC), 648 (Arg-CGA/Gln-CAA) and 661 (Pro-CCG/Pro-CCA) in exon 10. At each SNP site the sequence listed first was predominant in all ethnic groups. Several SNPs segregated on the same chromosome regardless of populations and species. Together, the SNPs produced 5 major human TAP1 alleles, 4 of which matched the officially recognized alleles *0101, *02011, *0301, and *0401; the 5th allele differed from each of those by at least 4 SNPs. Overall, TAP1*0101 was the predominant allele in all ethnic groups, with frequencies ranging from 0.667 in Zambians to 0.808 in US Caucasians. The TAP1*0401 frequency showed the greatest difference between Africans (0.221-0.254) and Caucasians (0.033), with Brazilians (0.058) fitting in the middle. Consistent with earlier work based on Caucasians and gorillas, *0101 appeared to be the newest human TAP1 allele, suggesting a dramatic spread of *0101 into all human populations examined. Characterization of TAP1 polymorphisms allowed the design of a PCR-based genotyping scheme that targeted 7 SNP sites and required 2 separate genotyping techniques.
Human Immunology 04/2001; 62(3):256-68. · 2.30 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The protein forms of transporter associated with antigen processing, subunit 2 (TAP2), differ either by amino acid substitutions (Thr374Ala, Ile379Val, Ile467Val, Thr565Ala, Val577Met, Cys651Arg, and Ala665Thr) or by a truncation (Gln687Stop) of 17 amino acid residues at the C-terminus. Nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms (N-SNPs) causing these amino acid variations except 577Val were detected in genomic DNA samples from North American Caucasians (n = 76), Brazilians (n = 148), Rwandans (n = 285), and Zambians (n = 117). Exclusive (100%) and nearly exclusive (>95%) linkage disequilibrium was seen with a number of N-SNPs. The average heterozygosity at any given dimorphic site ranged from 7.3% to 44.6%, and at least four N-SNPs showed clear population specificity. N-SNP combinations alone led to the identification of 16 relatively common alleles, which appeared to form at least three lineages. Further analyses of 101 cDNA samples from Brazilians detected nine expressed TAP2 alleles, four of which matched the official assignments. Genetic complexity at the TAP2 locus was further enhanced by two out of five synonymous SNPs (S-SNPs), especially the GGT386GGG (Gly) that had similar heterozygosity rates in Caucasians (28.9%), Rwandans (33.3%), and Zambians (33.3%). Overall, distribution of both synonymous and nonsynonymous SNPs in the various ethnic groups examined here conformed well to the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, and between 57.9% and 77.0% of subjects in each ethnic group were heterozygous with two TAP2 alleles predicted to differ by at least one amino acid residue. Such complexity of TAP2 polymorphisms, in the form of SNPs as well as alleles, is likely to complicate the analyses of disease associations and haplotype structures in the HLA class II region.
Genes and Immunity 03/2001; 2(1):32-40. · 3.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polymorphisms in genes encoding transporters associated with antigen processing (TAP) have been associated with heterogeneity of disease progression in HIV-1-infected homosexual men. In our recent AIDS-related studies of cohorts from Rwanda and Zambia, four new polymorphic sites in the TAP2 coding region were detected by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) and confirmed by bi-directional nucleotide sequencing and restriction enzyme digestion. The first, a substitution of Thr (GCC) for Ala (ACC) at codon position 374 in exon 5, was found in about 13% of Rwandans and Zambians (n=213). The remaining 3 new polymorphisms were seen in the 7th exon with changes of 458Thr-ACG to ACA, 466Gly-GGG to GGA, and 467Val-GTT to Ile-ATT, respectively These 3 variants occurred exclusively on the same chromosome and appeared to have arisen together from the 374Thr-bearing allele. Analyses of the relationship between the 374Thr-467Ile segment and the nearby markers in DQB1 and DRB1 suggested the existence of a unique extended haplotype related to these newly identified variants.