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Electrophoresis. 2009 Nov;30(21):3657-64. doi: 10.1002/elps.200900197.

SNaPshot minisequencing to resolve mitochondrial macro-haplogroups found in Africa.

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  • 1Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research Unit, Division of Human Genetics, School of Pathology, University of the Witwatersrand and the National Health Laboratory Services, Johannesburg, South Africa.


African mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups are divided into seven macro-haplogroups (L0'1'2'3'4'5'6), while the rest of the world's lineages are classified as subgroups of macro-haplogroups M, N and R. The most common approach to characterizing mtDNA variation is the sequencing of hypervariable segments I and II of the non-coding control region of the molecule. Given the higher mutation rate within the control region compared with the coding regions of the molecule, recurrent mutations in the former can sometimes hide possible phylogenetic structure. The incorporation of haplogroup-defining coding region mutations has helped in overcoming this limitation. By judiciously selecting 14 coding region SNPs and incorporating them into a multiplex minisequencing assay we were able to resolve mtDNA sequences from some sub-Saharan African populations into ten macro-haplogroups (L0-L6, M, N and R). We tested the efficacy of the panel by screening 699 individuals, consisting mostly of Khoe-San, Bantu speakers and individuals with mixed ancestries (Coloreds) and found no inconsistencies compared with hypervariable segment sequencing results. The panel provided a fast and efficient means of classifying mtDNA into the ten mitochondrial macro-haplogroups and provided a reliable screening to distinguish African from non-African-derived mtDNA lineages.

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