Two complement receptor one alleles have opposing associations with cerebral malaria and interact with alpha(+)thalassaemia
Opi DH, Swann O, Macharia A, Uyoga S, Band G, Ndila CM, Harrison EM, Thera MA, Kone AK, Diallo DA, Doumbo OK, Lyke KE, Plowe CV, Moulds JM, Shebbe M, Mturi N, Peshu N, Maitland K, Raza A, Kwiatkowski DP, Rockett KA, Williams TN, Rowe JA
Malaria has been a major driving force in the evolution of the human genome. In sub-Saharan African populations, two neighbouring polymorphisms in the Complement Receptor One (CR1) gene, named Sl2 and McC(b), occur at high frequencies, consistent with selection by malaria. Previous studies have been inconclusive. Using a large case-control study of severe malaria in Kenyan children and statistical models adjusted for confounders, we estimate the relationship between Sl2 and McC(b) and malaria phenotypes, and find they have opposing associations. The Sl2 polymorphism is associated with markedly reduced odds of cerebral malaria and death, while the McC(b) polymorphism is associated with increased odds of cerebral malaria. We also identify an apparent interaction between Sl2 and alpha(+)thalassaemia, with the protective association of Sl2 greatest in children with normal alpha-globin. The complex relationship between these three mutations may explain previous conflicting findings, highlighting the importance of considering genetic interactions in disease-association studies.