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Data on the distribution of beta thalassemia among over 6,000 Melanesians reveals a major difference in the carrier rates between populations in the malarious coastal regions of New Guinea and those living in the historically malaria-free Highlands. The island of Maewo in Vanuatu has a particularly high incidence of beta + thalassemia associated with a single restriction enzyme haplotype. Direct cloning into a plasmid vector and sequence analysis demonstrate that the mutation is a G to C transversion at position 5 of intron 1 of the beta-globin gene. Oligonucleotide probe surveys indicate that this variant accounted for all cases of beta thalassemia studied from Maewo. It is also common in coastal Papua New Guinea where haplotype and oligonucleotide probe data suggest that the molecular basis of beta thalassmia is more heterogeneous.


Journal article



Publication Date





9 - 14


Alleles, Child, Cloning, Molecular, Female, Genetics, Population, Globins, Haplotypes, Humans, Introns, Malaria, Male, Melanesia, Mutation, Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length, Thalassemia