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Variation in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes accounts for one-half of the genetic risk in type 1 diabetes (T1D). Amino acid changes in the HLA-DR and HLA-DQ molecules mediate most of the risk, but extensive linkage disequilibrium complicates the localization of independent effects. Using 18,832 case-control samples, we localized the signal to 3 amino acid positions in HLA-DQ and HLA-DR. HLA-DQβ1 position 57 (previously known; P = 1 × 10(-1,355)) by itself explained 15.2% of the total phenotypic variance. Independent effects at HLA-DRβ1 positions 13 (P = 1 × 10(-721)) and 71 (P = 1 × 10(-95)) increased the proportion of variance explained to 26.9%. The three positions together explained 90% of the phenotypic variance in the HLA-DRB1-HLA-DQA1-HLA-DQB1 locus. Additionally, we observed significant interactions for 11 of 21 pairs of common HLA-DRB1-HLA-DQA1-HLA-DQB1 haplotypes (P = 1.6 × 10(-64)). HLA-DRβ1 positions 13 and 71 implicate the P4 pocket in the antigen-binding groove, thus pointing to another critical protein structure for T1D risk, in addition to the HLA-DQ P9 pocket.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Genet

Publication Date





898 - 905


Algorithms, Amino Acids, Case-Control Studies, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1, Epistasis, Genetic, Female, Genotype, HLA-DQ alpha-Chains, HLA-DQ beta-Chains, HLA-DRB1 Chains, Haplotypes, Humans, Logistic Models, Male, Models, Genetic, Phenotype, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Risk Factors