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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 May 13;100(10):6069-74. Epub 2003 Apr 29.

Linkage disequilibrium in human populations.

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  • 1Human Genetics Division, University of Southampton, Duthie Building (MP 808), Southampton General Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD, United Kingdom.


Whereas the human linkage map appears on limited evidence to be constant over populations, maps of linkage disequilibrium (LD) vary among populations that differ in gene history. The greatest difference is between populations of sub-Saharan origin and populations remotely derived from Africa after a major bottleneck that reduced their heterozygosity and altered their Malecot parameters, increasing the intercept M that reflects association in founders and decreasing the exponential decline epsilon. Variation among populations within this ethnic dichotomy is much smaller. These observations validate use of a cosmopolitan LD map based on a sizeable sample representing a large population reliably typed for markers at high density. Then an LD map for a region or isolate within an ethnic group may be created by fitting the sample LD to the cosmopolitan map, estimating Malecot parameters simultaneously. The cosmopolitan map scaled by epsilon recovers 95% of the information that a local map at the same density gives and therefore more than the information in a low-resolution local map. Relative to a Eurasian cosmopolitan map the scaling factors are estimated to be 0.82 for isolates of European descent, 1.53 for Yorubans, and 1.74 for African Americans. These observations are consistent with a common bottleneck (perhaps but not necessarily speciation) approximately 173,500 years ago, if the bottleneck associated with migration out of Africa was 100,000 years ago. Eurasian populations (especially isolates with numerous cases) are efficient for genome scans, and populations of recent African origin (such as African Americans) are efficient for identification of causal polymorphisms within a candidate sequence.

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