Alu evolution in human populations: using the coalescent to estimate effective population size.

  • Sherry S
  • Harpending H
  • Batzer M
 et al. 
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There are estimated to be approximately 1000 members of the Ya5 Alu subfamily of retroposons in humans. This subfamily has a distribution restricted to humans, with a few copies in gorillas and chimpanzees. Fifty-seven Ya5 elements were previously cloned from a HeLa-derived randomly sheared total genomic library, sequenced, and screened for polymorphism in a panel of 120 unrelated humans. Forty-four of the 57 cloned Alu repeats were monomorphic in the sample and 13 Alu repeats were dimorphic for insertion presence/absence. The observed distribution of sample frequencies of the 13 dimorphic elements is consistent with the theoretical expectation for elements ascertained in a single diploid cell line. Coalescence theory is used to compute expected total pedigree branch lengths for monomorphic and dimorphic elements, leading to an estimate of human effective population size of approximately 18,000 during the last one to two million years.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Evolution
  • Gene Frequency
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Molecular
  • Multigene Family
  • Nucleic Acid
  • Population Density
  • Repetitive Sequences
  • Retroelements

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  • Stephen T Sherry

  • Henry C Harpending

  • M A Batzer

  • Mark Stoneking

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