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Eur J Hum Genet. 2005 May;13(5):677-86.

Linkage disequilibrium patterns vary substantially among populations.

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  • 1Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics, Karolinska Institute, Berzelius väg 35, Stockholm 17177, Sweden.


A major initiative to create a global human haplotype map has recently been launched as a tool to improve the efficiency of disease gene mapping. The 'HapMap' project will study common variants in depth in four (and to a lesser degree in up to 12) populations to catalogue haplotypes that are expected to be common to all populations. A hope of the 'HapMap' project is that much of the genome occurs in regions of limited diversity such that only a few of the SNPs in each region will capture the diversity and be relevant around the world. In order to explore the implications of studying only a limited number of populations, we have analyzed linkage disequilibrium (LD) patterns of three 175-320 kb genomic regions in 16 diverse populations with an emphasis on African and European populations. Analyses of these three genomic regions provide empiric demonstration of marked differences in frequencies of the same few haplotypes, resulting in differences in the amount of LD and very different sets of haplotype frequencies. These results highlight the distinction between the statistical concept of LD and the biological reality of haplotypes and their frequencies. The significant quantitative and qualitative variation in LD among populations, even for populations within a geographic region, emphasizes the importance of studying diverse populations in the HapMap project to assure broad applicability of the results.

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