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HLA class I (HLA-I) allotypes vary widely in their dependence on tapasin (TAPBP), an integral component of the peptide-loading complex, to present peptides on the cell surface. We identified two single-nucleotide polymorphisms that regulate TAPBP messenger RNA (mRNA) expression in Africans, rs111686073 (G/C) and rs59097151 (A/G), located in an AP-2α transcription factor binding site and a microRNA (miR)-4486 binding site, respectively. rs111686073G and rs59097151A induced significantly higher TAPBP mRNA expression relative to the alternative alleles due to higher affinity for AP-2α and abrogation of miR-4486 binding, respectively. These variants associated with lower Plasmodium falciparum parasite prevalence and lower incidence of clinical malaria specifically among individuals carrying tapasin-dependent HLA-I allotypes, presumably by augmenting peptide loading, whereas tapasin-independent allotypes associated with relative protection, regardless of imputed TAPBP mRNA expression levels. Thus, an attenuated course of malaria may occur through enhanced breadth and/or magnitude of antigen presentation, an important consideration when evaluating vaccine efficacy.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





HLA, malaria, tapasin, Genetic Variation, Humans, Malaria, MicroRNAs, Peptides, RNA, Messenger