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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e46520. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046520. Epub 2012 Sep 28.

Several different lactase persistence associated alleles and high diversity of the lactase gene in the admixed Brazilian population.

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Departamento de Genética, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil.


Adult-type hypolactasia is a common phenotype caused by the lactase enzyme deficiency. The -13910 C>T polymorphism, located 14 Kb upstream of the lactase gene (LCT) in the MCM6 gene was associated with lactase persistence (LP) in Europeans. This polymorphism is rare in Africa but several other variants associated with lactase persistence were observed in Africans. The aims of this study were to identify polymorphisms in the MCM6 region associated with the lactase persistence phenotype and to determine the distribution of LCT gene haplotypes in 981 individuals from North, Northeast and South Brazil. These polymorphisms were genotyped by PCR based methods and sequencing. The -13779*C,-13910*T, -13937*A, -14010*C, -14011*T LP alleles previously described in the MCM6 gene region that acts as an enhancer for the LCT gene were identified in Brazilians. The most common LP allele was -13910*T. Its frequency was highly correlated with European ancestry in the Brazilian populations investigated. The -13910*T was higher (0.295) in southern Brazilians of European ancestry and lower (0.175) in the Northern admixed population. LCT haplotypes were derived from the 10 LCT SNPs genotyped. Overall twenty six haplotypes previously described were identified in the four Brazilian populations studied. The Multidimensional Scaling analysis showed that Belém, in the north, was closer to Amerindians. Northeastern and southern Afro-descendants were more related with Bantu-speaking South Africans whereas the Southern population with European ancestry grouped with Southern and Northern Europeans. This study shows a high variability considering the number of LCT haplotypes observed. Due to the highly admixed nature of the Brazilian populations, the diagnosis of hypolactasia in Brazil, based only in the investigation of the -13910*T allele is an oversimplification.

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