CR1 Knops blood group alleles are not associated with severe malaria in the Gambia.
Zimmerman PA., Fitness J., Moulds JM., McNamara DT., Kasehagen LJ., Rowe JA., Hill AVS.
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.