The insulin minisatellite (INS VNTR) has been intensively analyzed due to its associations with diseases including diabetes. We have previously used patterns of variant repeat distribution in the minisatellite to demonstrate that genetic diversity is unusually great in Africans compared to non-Africans. Here we analyzed variation at 56 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) flanking the minisatellite in individuals from six populations, and we show that over 40% of the total genetic variance near the minisatellite is due to differences between Africans and non-Africans, far higher than seen in most genomic regions and consistent with differential selection acting on the insulin gene region, most likely in the non-African ancestral population. Linkage disequilibrium was lower in African populations, with evidence of clustering of historical recombination events. Analysis of haplotypes from the relatively nonrecombining region around the minisatellite revealed a star-shaped phylogeny with lineages radiating from an ancestral African-specific haplotype. These haplotypes confirmed that minisatellite lineages defined by variant repeat distributions are monophyletic in origin. These analyses provide a framework for a cladistic approach to future disease association studies of the insulin region within both African and non-African populations, and they identify SNPs which can be rapidly analyzed as surrogate markers for minisatellite lineage.Peer-reviewedPublisher Versio
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