Genetic susceptibility to insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is associated with the HLA-DR3 and DR4 haplotypes. The HLA-DR2 haplotype is negatively associated with IDDM, an association that has been interpreted as dominant protection. Here, we describe the molecular analysis of the HLA class II genes in an unusual family with three HLA-DR1/2 siblings, all of whom have IDDM. With polymerase chain reaction amplification and sequence analysis to characterize the class II alleles, we identified a novel DQB1 allele on the DR1 haplotype and an unusual DQB1 allele on the DR2 haplotype. However, the DRB1 alleles on these DR1 and DR2 haplotypes are the conventional alleles (*0101 and *1501, respectively). These results suggest that it is the conventional DQB1 allele (*0602) not the DRB1 allele (*1501) on the protective DR2 haplotype that confers protection in the general population and, furthermore, that these unusual DQB1 alleles may confer susceptibility to IDDM in this family. The unusual DQB1 allele on this DR2 haplotype encodes Asp at position 57, indicating that it is the allele DQB1*0602 and not simply the presence of this residue that is responsible for the protective effect.

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