Genetic Chaos

Monday, August 02, 2004

Y Chromosome STR Haplotypes and the Genetic Structure of U.S. Populations of African, European, and Hispanic Ancestry

To investigate geographic structure within U.S. ethnic populations, we analyzed 1705 haplotypes on the basis of 9 short tandem repeat (STR) loci on the Y-chromosome from 9–11 groups each of African-Americans, European-Americans, and Hispanics. There were no significant differences in the distribution of Y-STR haplotypes among African-American groups, whereas European-American and Hispanic groups did exhibit significant geographic heterogeneity. However, the significant heterogeneity resulted from one sample; removal of that sample in each case eliminated the significant heterogeneity. Multidimensional scaling analysis of RST values indicated that African-American groups formed a distinct cluster, whereas there was some intermingling of European-American and Hispanic groups. MtDNA data exist for many of these same groups; estimates of the European-American genetic contribution to the African-American gene pool were 27.5%–33.6% for the Y-STR haplotypes and 9%–15.4% for the mtDNA types. The lack of significant geographic heterogeneity among Y-STR and mtDNA haplotypes in U.S ethnic groups means that forensic DNA databases do not need to be constructed for separate geographic regions of the U.S. Moreover, absence of significant geographic heterogeneity for these two loci means that regional variation in disease susceptibility within ethnic groups is more likely to reflect cultural/environmental factors, rather than any underlying genetic heterogeneity.

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Admixture in the Hispanics of the San Luis Valley, Colorado, and its implications for complex trait gene mapping

Hispanic populations are a valuable resource that can and should facilitate the identification of complex trait genes by means of admixture mapping (AM). In this paper we focus on a particular Hispanic population living in the San Luis Valley (SLV) in Southern Colorado.We used a set of 22 Ancestry Informative Markers (AIMs) to describe the admixture process and dynamics in this population. AIMs are defined as genetic markers that exhibit allele frequency differences between parental populations >or=30%, and are more informative for studying admixed populations than random markers. The ancestral proportions of the SLV Hispanic population are estimated as 62.7 +/- 2.1% European, 34.1 +/- 1.9% Native American and 3.2 +/- 1.5% West African. We also estimated the ancestral proportions of individuals using these AIMs. Population structure was demonstrated by the excess association of unlinked markers, the correlation between estimates of admixture based on unlinked marker sets, and by a highly significant correlation between individual Native American ancestry and skin pigmentation (R2= 0.082, p < 0.001). We discuss the implications of these findings in disease gene mapping efforts.

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Diversity and heterogeneity in mitochondrial DNA of North American populations

Variation in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region as detected by sequence-specific oligonucleotide (SSO) probes is described for 2282 individuals from African-American, European-American, and Hispanic subpopulations from five broadly defined regions of North America (Northeast, Southeast, Central, Northwest, Southwest). Population diversity estimates were uniformly high for all subpopulations and for each major ethnic group. Only the Pennsylvania Hispanic group was remarkable with respect to its mitochondrial DNA types, having both six low frequency population specific types (ranging from 1.2-8.6%) and three high frequency shared types (10-20% each). There was no statistically significant subpopulation heterogeneity present within any of the three major groups at either the subpopulation level or the regional level (p > 0.01). However, statistically significant heterogeneity was measured when comparing the three major groups to each other, with the variance component attributable to this large division accounting for 18.60% of the total variance (p < 0.001). Overall mtDNA is a satisfactory forensic typing locus within broadly defined African-American, European-American, and Hispanic groups from North America, based on the high diversity estimates and absence of heterogeneity, as characterized by SSO typing.

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