, Volume 85, Issue 5, pp 521-524

The origin of sickle cell alleles in Israel

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Molecular genetic studies were undertaken to determine the source of chromosomes carrying the sickle cell allele in Israeli patients. Analysis of restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) patterns (haplotypes) along the β-globin gene cluster was performed on 31 sickle chromosomes obtained from 10 unrelated families living in Israel. One is a Caucasian Jewish family, recently found to be carrying the sickle allele, and the other 9 are Arab families of various communities. The Jewish family, previously noted not to carry African red blood cell markers, was discovered to have the most common African haplotype of the β-globin gene cluster, Benin. Similarly, 8 of the Arab families were also found to carry the Benin haplotype, whereas the ninth has the CAR (Central African Republic or Bantu) haplotype. The results suggest that sickle alleles in Israel originated in Africa, probably in two different regions, and migrated north into Arab and Jewish populations.