Norwegian Sami differs significantly from other Norwegians according to their HLA profile

Tissue Antigens. 2010 Mar;75(3):207-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0039.2009.01425.x. Epub 2009 Dec 30.


This study reports extensive genomic data for both human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I and II loci in Norwegian Sami, a native population living in the northwest of Europe. The Sami have a distinct culture and their own languages, which belong to the Uralic linguistic family. Norwegian Sami (n = 200) were typed at the DNA level for the HLA-A, -C, -B, -DRB1 and -DQB1 loci, and compared with a non-Sami Norwegian population (n = 576). The two populations exhibited some common genetic features but also differed significantly at all HLA loci. The most significantly deviating allele frequencies were an increase of HLA-A*03, -B*27, -DRB1*08 and -DQB1*04 and a decrease of HLA-A*01, C*01, -DRB1*04 and -DQB1*02 among Sami compared with non-Sami Norwegians. The Sami showed no deviation from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. The hypothesis of selective neutrality was rejected at all loci except for the A- and C- loci for the Sami. HLA haplotype frequencies also differed between the two populations. The most common extended HLA haplotypes were A*02-B*27-C*01-DR*08-DQB1*04 in the Sami and A*01-B*08-C*07-DR*03-DQB1*02 in the other Norwegians. Genetic distance analyses indicated that the Norwegian Sami were highly differentiated from other Europeans and were most closely related to Finns whose language also belongs to the Uralic linguistic family. In conclusion, the Norwegian Sami and the non-Sami Norwegians were significantly different at all HLA loci. Our results can be explained by the fact that the two populations have different origins and that the Sami population has remained smaller and more isolated than its neighbors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA / genetics
  • Ethnicity / genetics*
  • Family
  • Gene Frequency
  • HLA Antigens / genetics*
  • HLA-A Antigens / genetics
  • Haplotypes
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / genetics
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / genetics
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / genetics
  • Norway
  • White People / genetics*


  • HLA Antigens
  • HLA-A Antigens
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • DNA
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens