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The killer immunoglobulin-like receptor (KIR) anthropology component of the 15th International Histocompatibility Workshop (IHIWS) sought to explore worldwide population variation in the KIR loci, and to examine the relationship between KIR genes and their human leukocyte antigen (HLA) ligands. Fifteen laboratories submitted KIR genotype and HLA ligand data in 27 populations from six broad ethnic groups. Data were analyzed for correlations between the frequencies of KIR and their known HLA ligands. In addition, allelic typing was performed for KIR2DL2 and 3DL1 in a subset of populations. Strong and significant correlations were observed between KIR2DL2, 2DL3 genotype frequencies and the frequency of their ligand, HLA-C1. In contrast, only weak associations were seen for 3DL1, 3DS1 and the HLA-Bw4 ligand. Although some aspects of the correlations observed here differ from those reported in other populations, these data provide additional evidence of linked evolutionary histories for some KIR and HLA loci. Investigation of allele-level variation for the B haplotype locus KIR 2DL2 showed that two alleles, *001 and *003, predominate in all populations in this study. Much more allelic variation was observed for the A haplotype locus 3DL1, with several alleles observed at moderate frequencies and extensive variation observed between populations.

Original publication




Journal article


Tissue Antigens

Publication Date





9 - 17


Evolution, Molecular, Genetic Loci, Genetic Variation, Genotype, HLA Antigens, Humans, Polymorphism, Genetic, Receptors, KIR