Genetic Chaos

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Estimating African American Admixture Proportions by Use of Population-Specific Alleles

We analyzed the European genetic contribution to 10 populations of African descent in the United States (Maywood, Illinois; Detroit; New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Baltimore; Charleston, South Carolina; New Orleans; and Houston) and in Jamaica, using nine autosomal DNA markers. These markers either are population-specific or show frequency differences >45% between the parental populations and are thus especially informative for admixture. European genetic ancestry ranged from 6.8% (Jamaica) to 22.5% (New Orleans). The unique utility of these markers is reflected in the low variance associated with these admixture estimates (SEM 1.3%-2.7%). We also estimated the male and female European contribution to African Americans, on the basis of informative mtDNA (haplogroups H and L) and Y Alu polymorphic markers. Results indicate a sex-biased gene flow from Europeans, the male contribution being substantially greater than the female contribution. mtDNA haplogroups analysis shows no evidence of a significant maternal Amerindian contribution to any of the 10 populations. We detected significant nonrandom association between two markers located 22 cM apart (FY-null and AT3), most likely due to admixture linkage disequilibrium created in the interbreeding of the two parental populations. The strength of this association and the substantial genetic distance between FY and AT3 emphasize the importance of admixed populations as a useful resource for mapping traits with different prevalence in two parental populations.

PDF file

Ancestral Proportions and Admixture Dynamics in Geographically Defined African Americans Living in South Carolina

We analyzed admixture in samples of six different African-American populations from South Carolina: Gullah-speaking Sea Islanders in coastal South Carolina, residents of four counties in the “Low Country” (Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, and Dorchester), and persons living in the city of Columbia, located in central South Carolina. We used a battery of highly informative autosomal, mtDNA, and Y-chromosome markers. Two of the autosomal markers (FY and AT3) are linked and lie 22 cM apart on chromosome 1. The results of this study indicate, in accordance with previous historical, cultural, and anthropological evidence, a very low level of European admixture in the Gullah Sea Islanders (m = 3.5 +/- 0.9%). The proportion of European admixture is higher in the Low Country (m ranging between 9.9 +/- 1.8% and 14.0 +/- 1.9%), and is highest in Columbia (m = 17.7 +/- 3.1%). A sex-biased European gene flow and a small Native American contribution to the African-American gene pool are also evident in these data. We studied the pattern of pairwise allelic associations between the FY locus and the nine other autosomal markers in our samples. In the combined sample from the Low Country (N = 548), a high level of linkage disequilibrium was observed between the linked markers, FY and AT3. Additionally, significant associations were also detected between FY and 4 of the 8 unlinked markers, suggesting the existence of significant genetic structure in this population. A continuous gene flow model of admixture could explain the observed pattern of genetic structure. A test conditioning on the overall admixture of each individual showed association of ancestry between the two linked markers (FY and AT3), but not between any of the unlinked markers, as theory predicts. Thus, even in the presence of genetic structure due to continuous gene flow or some other factor, it is possible to differentiate associations due to linkage from spurious associations due to genetic structure.

PDF file

Population structure of Y chromosome SNP haplogroups in the United States and forensic implications for constructing Y chromosome STR databases

A set of 61 Y chromosome single-nucleotide-polymorphisms (Y-SNPs) is typed in a sample of 2517 individuals from 38 populations to infer the geographic origins of Y chromosomes in the United States and to test for paternal admixture among African-, European-, Hispanic-, Asian-, and Native-Americans. All of the samples were previously typed with the 11 core U.S. Y chromosome short tandem repeats (Y-STRs) recommended by SWGDAM, which revealed high levels of among ethnic group variation and low levels of among-population-within-ethnic-group variation. Admixture estimates vary greatly among populations and ethnic groups. The frequencies of non-European (3.4%) and non-Asian (4.5%) Y chromosomes are generally low in European–American and Asian–American populations, respectively. The frequencies of European Y chromosomes in Native-American populations range widely (i.e., 7–89%) and follow a West to East gradient, whereas they are relatively consistent in African–American populations (26.4 +/- 8.9%) from different locations. The European (77.8 +/- 9.3%) and Native-American (13.7 +/- 7.4%) components of the Hispanic paternal gene pool are also relatively constant among geographic regions; however, the African contribution is much higher in the Northeast (10.5 +/- 6.4%) than in the Southwest (1.5 +/- 0.9%) or Midwest (0%). To test for the effects of inter-ethnic admixture on the structure of Y-STR diversity in the U.S., we perform subtraction analyses in which Y chromosomes inferred to be admixed by Y-SNP analysis are removed from the database and pairwise population differentiation tests are implemented on the remaining Y-STR haplotypes. Results show that low levels of heterogeneity previously observed between pairs of Hispanic-American populations disappear when African-derived chromosomes are removed from the analysis. This is not the case for an unusual sample of European–Americans from New York City when its African-derived chromosomes are removed, or for Native-American populations when European-derived chromosomes are removed. We infer that both inter-ethnic admixture and population structure in ancestral source populations may contribute to fine scale Y-STR heterogeneity within U.S. ethnic groups.

PDF file