Infectious Disease

Nonrandom and Nonoverlapping

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Science  13 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6164, pp. 1292
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6164.1292-b

Evolutionary pressure from pathogens appears to have generated diversity in alleles of immune response genes known as human leucocyte antigen (HLA). It remains unclear, however, how this mechanism resulted in the dominance of certain HLA allele combinations. Penman et al. investigated particular associations of HLA alleles with protection against death from specific pathogens using a mathematical model for the simple case of a two-locus two-allele system. The model reveals that a pathogen population evolves, which extirpates homozygote hosts and then enters dynamic coevolutionary cycling of heterozygotes. The consequence is that strain structure evolves in the pathogen population as a result of this immune selection and results in nonrandom and nonoverlapping associations among the HLA immune recognition alleles of the host.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1304218110 (2013).

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