Diversification of the ADH1B gene during expansion of modern humans

Ann Hum Genet. 2011 Jul;75(4):497-507. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-1809.2011.00651.x. Epub 2011 May 18.


A variant allele, ADH1B*48His, also known as ADH1B*2, at the human Alcohol Dehydrogenase 1B gene (ADH1B) is strongly associated with alcoholism in some populations and has an unusual geographic distribution. Strong evidence implies selection has increased the frequency of this allele in some East Asian populations but does not fully explain its geographic pattern. We have studied haplotypes of 10 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and two short tandem repeat polymorphisms (STRPs) in the ADH1B region in 2,206 individuals from a worldwide set of populations. These SNPs and STRPs define nine common haplogroups most of which have distinct geographic patterns. The haplogroups H5 and H6, both with the derived ADH1B*48His allele, appear restricted to the Middle East and East Asia, respectively. The positively selected H7 is derived from H6 by a new regulatory region variant defining SNP rs3811801 restricted to East Asia. Age estimates of the haplogroups based on the STRPs also agree with the time of the migration events estimated by other studies. H7 is estimated to have expanded recently, around 2,800 years ago, and ancient DNA samples from North China confirm its presence about that time. The dating of the H7 expansion may help understand the selective force on the ADH1B gene.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / genetics*
  • Americas
  • Asia, Eastern
  • Asian People / genetics
  • China
  • Europe
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Middle East
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Time Factors


  • ADH1B protein, human
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase