Divergent Haplotypes and Human History as Revealed in a Worldwide Survey of X-Linked DNA Sequence Variation

Thepopulation genetic historyof a10.1-kbp noncodingregion ofthe humanXchromosome was studiedusing the malesof the HGDP-CEPH Human Genome Diversity Panel (672 individuals from 52 populations). The geographic distribution of patterns of variation was roughly consistent with previous studies, with the major exception that 1 highly divergent haplotype(haplotypeX,hX)wasobservedatlowfrequencyinwidelyscattered non-Africanpopulationsandnotatallobserved in sub-Saharan African populations. Microsatellite (short tandem repeat) variation within the sequenced region was low among copies of hX, even though the estimated time of ancestry of hX and other sequences was 1.44 Myr. The estimated age of the common ancestor of all hX copies was 5,230 years (95% consistency index: 2,000–75,480 years). To further address the presence of hX in Africa, additional samples from Chad and Tanzania were screened. Five additional copies of hX were observed, consistent with a history in which hX was present in Africa prior to the migration of modern humans out of Africa and with eastern Africa being the source of non-African modern human populations. Taken together, these features of hX—that it is much older than other haplotypes and uncommon and patchily distributed throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia—present a cautionary tale for interpretations of human history.