Genetic variation of MHC Class I polymorphic Alu insertions (POALINs) in three subpopulations of the East Midlands, UK.

Background: Alu elements are highly researched due to their useful nature as markers in the study of human population genetics. Recently discovered Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) polymorphic Alu insertions (POALINs) have not been examined extensively for genetic variation and their HLA associations. Aims: The aim of this study is to assess the genetic variation between three populations using five recently discovered POALINs. Methods and Subjects: The study examined 190 healthy, unrelated subjects from three different populations in the East Midlands (UK) for the presence or absence of five Alu elements (AluHG, AluMICB, AluHJ, AluTF and AluHF) via the polymerase chain reaction followed by gel electrophoresis. Data were analysed for genetic variation and phylogenetic analyses. Results: All Alus were polymorphic in study populations. Appreciable allele frequency variation was observed at number of loci. The British population was significantly different from both the Punjabi Jat Sikh and Gujarati Patel populations, though showing a closer genetic relationship to the Punjabi Jat Sikh population than the Gujarati Patel population (Nei’s DA = 0.0031 and 0.0064 respectively). Conclusions: MHC POALINs are useful markers in the investigation of genetic variation and the assessment of population relationships and may have bearing on disease associations due to their linkage disequilibrium with HLA loci; this warrants further studies.