We recently proposed a biochemical model of genetic resistance to falciparum malaria based on the role of oxidant stress (of parasitic origin) in inducing the irreversible oxidation of hemoglobin and its binding to the erythrocyte membrane (Destro-Bisol et al. 1996). To test the model, we analyzed the relationships between the polymorphisms at the hemoglobin beta chain (.HBB) and red cell glutathione peroxidase (GPX1) loci in 18 populations that had been subjected to endemic malaria (Cameroon and Central African Republic). The erythrocytes of GPX1*2 heterozygotes should be more efficient in sheltering the cell membrane from irreversible oxidation and binding of hemoglobin caused by the oxidant stress exerted by Plasmodium falciparum. According to our model, the GPX1*2 allele has an epistatic effect on the HBB*A/*S genotype by lowering its protection againstfalciparum malaria. In turn, this should decrease the fitness of the HBB*A/*S-GPX1 *2/*l genotype. Our predictions were confirmed. In fact, we observed a clear trend toward a dissociation between the HBB*A/*S and GPX1 *2/*l genotypes in the overall data. To test alternative hypotheses, we also analyzed the genetic variation at 9 protein and 10 autosomal microsatellite loci at both the single- and the 2-locus level. We also discuss the possible relevance of an alternative biochemical pathway. The results further support the conclusions of our study because the dissociation between the GPX1 *2/*l and HBB *A/*S genotypes does not appear to be related either to a general decrease in heterozygosity or to an increased risk of sudden death in HBB*A/*S individuals.
Destro-Bisol, Giovanni; Vienna, Alessandro; Battaggia, Cinzia; Paoli, Giorgio; and Spedini, Gabriella
"Testing a Biochemical Model of Human Genetic Resistance to falciparum Malaria by the Analysis of Variation at Protein and Microsatellite Loci,"
3, Article 1.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/humbiol/vol71/iss3/1