Complex signatures of natural selection at the Duffy blood group locus

Am J Hum Genet. 2002 Feb;70(2):369-83. doi: 10.1086/338628. Epub 2001 Dec 20.


The Duffy blood group locus (FY) has long been considered a likely target of natural selection, because of the extreme pattern of geographic differentiation of its three major alleles (FY*B, FY*A, and FY*O). In the present study, we resequenced the FY region in samples of Hausa from Cameroon (fixed for FY*O), Han Chinese (fixed for FY*A), Italians, and Pakistanis. Our goals were to characterize the signature of directional selection on FY*O in sub-Saharan Africa and to understand the extent to which natural selection has also played a role in the extreme geographic differentiation of the other derived allele at this locus, FY*A. The data from the FY region are compared with the patterns of variation observed at 10 unlinked, putatively neutral loci from the same populations, as well as with theoretical expectations from the neutral-equilibrium model. The FY region in the Hausa shows evidence of directional selection in two independent properties of the data (i.e., level of sequence variation and frequency spectrum), observations that are consistent with the FY*O mutation being the target. The Italian and Chinese FY data show patterns of variation that are very unusual, particularly with regard to frequency spectrum and linkage disequilibrium, but do not fit the predictions of any simple model of selection. These patterns may represent a more complex and previously unrecognized signature of positive selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles*
  • Cameroon
  • China
  • Continental Population Groups / genetics*
  • Duffy Blood-Group System / genetics*
  • Ethnic Groups / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Variation / genetics
  • Geography
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Linkage Disequilibrium / genetics
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Pakistan
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / genetics
  • Population Density
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics
  • Selection, Genetic*


  • Duffy Blood-Group System