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Genet Epidemiol. 2010 Feb;34(2):133-9. doi: 10.1002/gepi.20442.

Shades of gray: a comparison of linkage disequilibrium between Hutterites and Europeans.

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Department of Human Genetics, The University of Chicago, Illinois, USA.


Founder or isolated populations have advantages for genetic studies due to decreased genetic and environmental heterogeneity. However, whereas longer-range linkage disequilibrium (LD) in these populations is expected to facilitate gene localization, extensive LD may actually limit the ability for gene discovery. The North American Hutterite population is one of the best characterized young founder populations and members of this isolate have been the subjects of our studies of complex traits, including fertility, asthma and cardiovascular disease, for >20 years. Here, we directly assess the patterns and extent of global LD using single nucleotide polymorphism genotypes with minor allele frequencies (MAFs) > or =5% from the Affymetrix GeneChip Mapping 500 K array in 60 relatively unrelated Hutterites and 60 unrelated Europeans (HapMap CEU). Although LD among some marker pairs extends further in the Hutterites than in Europeans, the pattern of LD and MAF are surprisingly similar. These results indicate that (1) identifying disease genes should be no more difficult in the Hutterites than in outbred European populations, (2) the same common susceptibility alleles for complex diseases should be present in the Hutterites and outbred European populations, and (3) imputation algorithms based on HapMap CEU should be applicable to the Hutterites.

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