Apolipoprotein L1 (apoL1) is a minor apoprotein component of HDL (High-density lipoprotein) or 'good cholesterol' which is synthesized in the liver and also in many other tissues, including pancreas, kidney, and brain. Although its intracellular function has not been elucidated, apoL1 circulating in plasma has the ability to kill the trypanosome Trypanosoma brucei that causes sleeping sickness. Two transcript variants encoding two different isoforms have been found for this gene. Recently, two coding sequence variants in APOL1 have been shown to associate with kidney disease in a recessive fashion while at the same time conferring resistance against Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense. The distribution of the variant most associated with kidney disease risk was analyzed in African populations and found to be more prevalent in western compared to northeast African populations and absent in Ethiopia, consistent with the reported protection from forms of kidney disease known to be associated with the APOL1 variants.
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