Genome at juncture of early human migration: a systematic analysis of two whole genomes and thirteen exomes from Kuwaiti population subgroup of inferred Saudi Arabian tribe ancestry

PLoS One. 2014 Jun 4;9(6):e99069. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0099069. eCollection 2014.


Population of the State of Kuwait is composed of three genetic subgroups of inferred Persian, Saudi Arabian tribe and Bedouin ancestry. The Saudi Arabian tribe subgroup traces its origin to the Najd region of Saudi Arabia. By sequencing two whole genomes and thirteen exomes from this subgroup at high coverage (>40X), we identify 4,950,724 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), 515,802 indels and 39,762 structural variations. Of the identified variants, 10,098 (8.3%) exomic SNPs, 139,923 (2.9%) non-exomic SNPs, 5,256 (54.3%) exomic indels, and 374,959 (74.08%) non-exomic indels are 'novel'. Up to 8,070 (79.9%) of the reported novel biallelic exomic SNPs are seen in low frequency (minor allele frequency <5%). We observe 5,462 known and 1,004 novel potentially deleterious nonsynonymous SNPs. Allele frequencies of common SNPs from the 15 exomes is significantly correlated with those from genotype data of a larger cohort of 48 individuals (Pearson correlation coefficient, 0.91; p <2.2×10-16). A set of 2,485 SNPs show significantly different allele frequencies when compared to populations from other continents. Two notable variants having risk alleles in high frequencies in this subgroup are: a nonsynonymous deleterious SNP (rs2108622 [19:g.15990431C>T] from CYP4F2 gene [MIM:*604426]) associated with warfarin dosage levels [MIM:#122700] required to elicit normal anticoagulant response; and a 3' UTR SNP (rs6151429 [22:g.51063477T>C]) from ARSA gene [MIM:*607574]) associated with Metachromatic Leukodystrophy [MIM:#250100]. Hemoglobin Riyadh variant (identified for the first time in a Saudi Arabian woman) is observed in the exome data. The mitochondrial haplogroup profiles of the 15 individuals are consistent with the haplogroup diversity seen in Saudi Arabian natives, who are believed to have received substantial gene flow from Africa and eastern provenance. We present the first genome resource imperative for designing future genetic studies in Saudi Arabian tribe subgroup. The full-length genome sequences and the identified variants are available at and

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabs / genetics*
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Gene Flow*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Variation / genetics*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Genotype
  • Human Migration*
  • Humans
  • Kuwait
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Mitochondrial

Grant support

The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) is acknowledged for funding the activities at our institute. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.