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Journal Article

Ancient DNA study reveals HLA susceptibility locus for leprosy in medieval Europeans

MPS-Authors
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Krause-Kyora,  Ben
Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Pierini,  Federica
Emmy Noether Research Group Evolutionary Immunogenomics, Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Lenz,  Tobias L.
Emmy Noether Research Group Evolutionary Immunogenomics, Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Krause-Kyora, B., Nutsua, M., Boehme, L., Pierini, F., Pedersen, D. D., Kornell, S.-C., et al. (2018). Ancient DNA study reveals HLA susceptibility locus for leprosy in medieval Europeans. Nature Communications, 9: 1569. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03857-x.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-4C9B-B
Abstract
Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae (M. leprae), was very common in Europe till the 16th century. Here, we perform an ancient DNA study on medieval skeletons from Denmark that show lesions specific for lepromatous leprosy (LL). First, we test the remains for M. leprae DNA to confirm the infection status of the individuals and to assess the bacterial diversity. We assemble 10 complete M. leprae genomes that all differ from each other. Second, we evaluate whether the human leukocyte antigen allele DRB1*15:01, a strong LL susceptibility factor in modern populations, also predisposed medieval Europeans to the disease. The comparison of genotype data from 69 M. leprae DNA-positive LL cases with those from contemporary and medieval controls reveals a statistically significant association in both instances. In addition, we observe that DRB1*15:01 co-occurs with DQB1*06:02 on a haplotype that is a strong risk factor for inflammatory diseases today.