Mexican American ancestry-informative markers: examination of population structure and marker characteristics in European Americans, Mexican Americans, Amerindians and Asians

Hum Genet. 2004 Feb;114(3):263-71. doi: 10.1007/s00439-003-1058-6. Epub 2003 Nov 20.


Markers with large differences in allele frequencies between ethnicities provide ancestry information that can be applied to genetic studies. We identified over 100 biallelic ancestry informative markers (AIMs) with large allele frequency differences between European Americans (EA) and Pima Amerindians from laboratory and database screens. For 35 of these markers, Mayan, Yavapai and Quechuan Amerindians were genotyped and compared with EA and Pima allele frequencies. Markers with large allele frequency differences between EA and one Amerindian tribe showed only small differences between the Amerindian tribes. Examination of structure in individuals demonstrated a clear separation of subjects of European from those of Amerindian ancestry, and similarity between individuals from disparate Amerindian populations. The AIMs demonstrated the variation in ancestral composition of individual Mexican Americans, providing evidence of applicability in admixture mapping and in controlling for structure in association tests. In addition, a high percentage of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) selected on the basis of large frequency differences between EA and Asian populations had large allele frequency differences between EA and Amerindians, suggesting an efficient method for greatly expanding AIMs for use in admixture mapping/structure analysis in Mexican Americans. Together, these data provide additional support for the practical application of admixture mapping in the Mexican American population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / genetics*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genetics, Population
  • Humans
  • Indians, Central American / genetics*
  • Mexican Americans / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide


  • Genetic Markers