PerspectiveGenetics

First-Class Control of HIV-1

Science  10 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6010, pp. 1488-1490
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200035

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Summary

The role of infectious disease in driving human genetic variations (polymorphisms) was first clearly espoused by J. B. S. Haldane in 1949 (1). Once the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) was established as the most polymorphic mammalian genetic system, searches began for human MHC [or human leukocyte antigen (HLA)] associations with infectious disease resistance. Such findings have been rare, though, possibly because susceptibility genes have been deselected over evolution. But the appearance of completely new infections caused by viruses, such as HIV-1, has opened opportunities to look at such selection in the MHC as it happens. On page 1551 of this issue, the International HIV Controllers Study (2), demonstrates the central role of HLA class I in controlling HIV-1 infection.