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The Knops blood group antigen erythrocyte polymorphisms have been associated with reduced falciparum malaria-based in vitro rosette formation (putative malaria virulence factor). Having previously identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the human complement receptor 1 (CR1/CD35) gene underlying the Knops antithetical antigens Sl1/Sl2 and McC(a)/McC(b), we have now performed genotype comparisons to test associations between these two molecular variants and severe malaria in West African children living in the Gambia. While SNPs associated with Sl:2 and McC(b+) were equally distributed among malaria-infected children with severe malaria and control children not infected with malaria parasites, high allele frequencies for Sl 2 (0.800, 1,365/1,706) and McC(b) (0.385, 658/1706) were observed. Further, when compared to the Sl 1/McC(a) allele observed in all populations, the African Sl 2/McC(b) allele appears to have evolved as a result of positive selection (modified Nei-Gojobori test Ka-Ks/s.e.=1.77, P-value <0.05). Given the role of CR1 in host defense, our findings suggest that Sl 2 and McC(b) have arisen to confer a selective advantage against infectious disease that, in view of these case-control study data, was not solely Plasmodium falciparum malaria. Factors underlying the lack of association between Sl 2 and McC(b) with severe malaria may involve variation in CR1 expression levels.

Original publication




Conference paper

Publication Date





368 - 373


Amino Acid Sequence, Blood Group Antigens, Case-Control Studies, DNA Primers, Gambia, Gene Frequency, Humans, Malaria, Falciparum, Molecular Probe Techniques, Molecular Sequence Data, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Receptors, Complement, Selection, Genetic