Studies of human DNA sequence polymorphism reveal a range of diversity patterns throughout the genome. This variation among loci may be due to natural selection, demographic influences, and/or different sampling strategies. Here we build on a continuing study of noncoding regions on the X chromosome in a panel of 41 globally sampled humans representing African and non-African populations by examining patterns of DNA sequence variation at four loci (APXL, AMELX, TNFSF5, and RRM2P4) and comparing these patterns with those previously reported at six loci in the same panel of 41 individuals. We also include comparisons with patterns of noncoding variation seen at five additional X-linked loci that were sequenced in similar global panels. We find that, while almost all loci show a reduction in non-African diversity, the magnitude of the reduction varies substantially across loci. The large observed variance in non-African levels of diversity results in the rejection of a neutral model of molecular evolution with a multi-locus HKA test under both a constant size and a bottleneck model. In non-Africans, some loci harbor an excess of rare mutations over neutral equilibrium predictions, while other loci show no such deviation in the distribution of mutation frequencies. We also observe a positive relationship between recombination rate and frequency spectra in our non-African, but not in our African, sample. These results indicate that a simple out-of-Africa bottleneck model is not sufficient to explain the observed patterns of sequence variation and that diversity-reducing selection acting at a subset of loci and/or a more complex neutral model must be invoked.


  • Communicating editor: L. Excoffier

  • Received December 5, 2003.
  • Accepted April 13, 2004.
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