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Mol Biol Evol. 2001 Feb;18(2):214-22.

Global patterns of human DNA sequence variation in a 10-kb region on chromosome 1.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, 1101 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Human DNA variation is currently a subject of intense research because of its importance for studying human origins, evolution, and demographic history and for association studies of complex diseases. A approximately 10-kb region on chromosome 1, which contains only four small exons (each <155 bp), was sequenced for 61 humans (20 Africans, 20 Asians, and 21 Europeans) and for 1 chimpanzee, 1 gorilla, and 1 orangutan. We found 52 polymorphic sites among the 122 human sequences and 382 variant sites among the human, chimpanzee, gorilla, and orangutan sequences. For the introns sequenced (8,991 bp), the nucleotide diversity (pi) was 0.058% among all sequences, 0.076% among the African sequences, 0.047% among the Asian sequences, and 0.045% among the European sequences. A compilation of data revealed that autosomal regions have, on average, the highest pi value (0.091%), X-linked regions have a somewhat lower pi value (0.079%), and Y-linked regions have a very low pi value (0.008%). The lower polymorphism in the present region may be due to a lower mutation rate and/or selection in the gene containing these introns or in genes linked to this region. The present region and two other 10-kb noncoding regions all show a strong excess of low-frequency variants, indicating a relatively recent population expansion. This region has a low mutation rate, which was estimated to be 0.74 x 10 per nucleotide per year. An average estimate of approximately 12,600 for the long-term effective population size was obtained using various methods; the estimate was not far from the commonly used value of 10,000. Fu and Li's tests rejected the assumption of an equilibrium neutral Wright-Fisher population, largely owing to the high proportion of low-frequency variants. The age of the most recent common ancestor of the sequences in our sample was estimated to be more than 1 Myr. Allowing for some unrealistic assumptions in the model, this estimate would still suggest an age of more than 500,000 years, providing further evidence for a genetic history of humans much more ancient than the emergence of modern humans. The fact that many unique variants exist in Europe and Asia also suggests a fairly long genetic history outside of Africa and argues against a complete replacement of all indigenous populations in Europe and Asia by a small Africa stock. Moreover, the ancient genetic history of humans indicates no severe bottleneck during the evolution of humans in the last half million years; otherwise, much of the ancient genetic history would have been lost during a severe bottleneck. We suggest that both the "Out of Africa" and the multiregional models are too simple to explain the evolution of modern humans.

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