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Genetics. 2001 Jul;158(3):1235-51.

Spectrum of nonrandom associations between microsatellite loci on human chromosome 11p15.

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Departamento de Biología Fundamental, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Santiago, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain.


Most evidence about nonrandom association of alleles at different loci, or gametic disequilibrium, across extensive anonymous regions of the human genome is based on the analysis of overall disequilibrium between pairs of microsatellites. However, analysis of interallelic associations is also necessary for a more complete description of disequilibrium. Here, we report a study characterizing the frequency and strength of both overall and interallelic disequilibrium between pairs of 12 microsatellite loci (CA repeats) spanning 19 cM (14 Mb) on human chromosome 11p15, in a large sample (810 haplotypes deduced from 405 individuals) drawn from a single population. Characterization of disequilibrium was carried out, taking into account the sign of the observed disequilibria. This strategy facilitates detection of associations and gives more accurate estimates of their intensities. Our results demonstrate that the incidence of disequilibrium over an extensive human chromosomal region is much greater than is commonly considered for populations that have expanded in size. In total, 44% of the pairs of microsatellite loci and 18% of the pairs of alleles showed significant nonrandom association. All the loci were involved in disequilibrium, although both the frequency and strength of interallelic disequilibrium were distributed nonuniformly along 11p15. These findings are especially relevant since significant associations were detected between loci separated by as much as 17-19 cM (7 cM on average). It was also found that the overall disequilibrium masks complicated patterns of association between pairs of alleles, dependent on their frequency and size. We suggest that the complex mutational dynamics at microsatellite loci could explain the allele-dependent disequilibrium patterns. These observations are also relevant to evaluation of the usefulness of microsatellite markers for fine-scale localization of disease genes.

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