Ancestry informative markers (AIMs) are human polymorphisms that exhibit substantially allele frequency differences among populations. These markers can be useful to provide information about ancestry of samples which may be useful in predicting a perpetrator's ethnic origin to aid criminal investigations. Variations in human pigmentation are the most obvious phenotypes to distinguish individuals. It has been recently shown that the variation of a G in an A allele of the coding single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1426654 within SLC24A5 gene varies in frequency among several population samples according to skin pigmentation. Because of these observations, the SLC24A5 locus has been evaluated as Ancestry Informative Region (AIR) by typing rs1426654 together with two additional intragenic markers (rs2555364 and rs16960620) in 471 unrelated individuals originating from three different continents (Africa, Asia and Europe). This study further supports the role of human SLC24A5 gene in skin pigmentation suggesting that variations in SLC24A5 haplotypes can correlate with human migration and ancestry. Furthermore, our data do reveal the utility of haplotype and combined unphased genotype analysis of SLC24A5 in predicting ancestry and provide a good example of usefulness of genetic characterization of larger regions, in addition to single polymorphisms, as candidates for population-specific sweeps in the ancestral population.
Keywords: Ancestry Informative Markers (AIMs); SLC24A5; forensic genetics..