Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Scientific Reports





First Page


PubMed ID





School of Medical and Health Sciences


Marzouka, N. a. d., Alnaqbi, H., Al-Aamri, A., Tay, G., & Alsafar, H. (2024). Investigating the genetic makeup of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in the United Arab Emirates population through next-generation sequencing. Scientific Reports, 14, article 3392.


The Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) molecules are central to immune response and have associations with the phenotypes of various diseases and induced drug toxicity. Further, the role of HLA molecules in presenting antigens significantly affects the transplantation outcome. The objective of this study was to examine the extent of the diversity of HLA alleles in the population of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) using Next-Generation Sequencing methodologies and encompassing a larger cohort of individuals. A cohort of 570 unrelated healthy citizens of the UAE volunteered to provide samples for Whole Genome Sequencing and Whole Exome Sequencing. The definition of the HLA alleles was achieved through the application of the bioinformatics tools, HLA-LA and xHLA. Subsequently, the findings from this study were compared with other local and international datasets. A broad range of HLA alleles in the UAE population, of which some were previously unreported, was identified. A comparison with other populations confirmed the current population's unique intertwined genetic heritage while highlighting similarities with populations from the Middle East region. Some disease-associated HLA alleles were detected at a frequency of > 5%, such as HLA-B*51:01, HLA-DRB1*03:01, HLA-DRB1*15:01, and HLA-DQB1*02:01. The increase in allele homozygosity, especially for HLA class I genes, was identified in samples with a higher level of genome-wide homozygosity. This highlights a possible effect of consanguinity on the HLA homozygosity. The HLA allele distribution in the UAE population showcases a unique profile, underscoring the need for tailored databases for traditional activities such as unrelated transplant matching and for newer initiatives in precision medicine based on specific populations. This research is part of a concerted effort to improve the knowledge base, particularly in the fields of transplant medicine and investigating disease associations as well as in understanding human migration patterns within the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding regions.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.