Differential frequency of NKG2C/KLRC2 deletion in distinct African populations and susceptibility to Trachoma: a new method for imputation of KLRC2 genotypes from SNP genotyping data

Adriana Goncalves, Pateh Makalo, Hassan Joof, Sarah Burr, Athumani Ramadhani, Patrick Massae, Aiweda Malisa, Tara Mtuy, Tamsyn Derrick, Anna R. Last, Meno Nabicassa, Eunice Cassama, Joanna Houghton, Christine D. Palmer, Harry Pickering, Matthew J. Burton, David C. W. Mabey, Robin L. Bailey, Martin R. Goodier, Martin J. Holland, Chrissy h. Roberts
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NKG2C is an activating receptor that is preferentially expressed on natural killer (NK) cells. The gene encoding NKG2C (killer cell lectin-like receptor C2, KLRC2) is present at different copy numbers in the genomes of different individuals. Deletion at the NKG2C locus was investigated in a case–control study of 1522 individuals indigenous to East- and West-Africa and the association with the ocular Chlamydia trachomatis infection and its sequelae was explored. The frequency of homozygous KLRC2 deletion was 13.7 % in Gambians and 4.7 % in Tanzanians. A significantly higher frequency of the deletion allele was found in West-Africans from the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau (36.2 % p = 2.105 × 10−8, 26.8 % p = 0.050; respectively) in comparison to East-African Tanzanians where the frequency of the deletion is comparable to other human populations (20.9 %). We found no evidence for an association between the numbers of KLRC2 gene copies and the clinical manifestations of trachoma (follicular trachoma or conjunctival scarring). A new method for imputation of KLRC2 genotypes from single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data in 2621 individuals from the Gambia further confirmed these results. Our data suggest that NKG2C does not play a major role in trachomatous disease. We found that the deletion allele is present at different frequencies in different populations but the reason behind these differences is currently not understood. The new method offers the potential to use SNP arrays from genome wide association studies to study the frequency of KLRC2deletion in other populations and its association with other diseases.