Background: An STR locus with tri-allelic pattern is occasionally observed in routine forensic casework. The extra copy of TPOX locus with tri-allelic pattern in populations has been assumed to be inserted into an X chromosome, which took place forth before the Bantu expansion in Africa. Nonetheless, the exact location of the duplication and the form of rearrangement in the human genome has not been clarified yet.
Results: In this study, we investigated the extra copy of type 2 tri-allelic pattern at TPOX in various populations. While allele 10 is the major third allele in Africa, allele 11 appears more frequent in America and overwhelming in Chinese and Korean populations, which might attribute to the population substructures. Results from the investigation of family cases showed that the transmission of the extra allele had a similar genetic pattern of autosomal genes. Furthermore, a whole-genome sequencing followed by bioinformatics analysis revealed that the intact form of chromosomal duplication and rearrangement occurred ~ 407 kb away from the authentic TPOX locus on chromosome 2 in two cases. The breakpoints of the insertion were further validated in most other tri-allelic subjects, which can imply the identical origin from the ancestral extra copy. Nevertheless, de novo chromosomal duplication and rearrangement at thyroid peroxidase gene occur in populations.
Conclusions: Instead of the extra allele 10 in African populations, the main third allele at TPOX with tri-allelic pattern is allele 11 in Chinese and Korean populations. The insertion of the extra copy into chromosome 2 occurs in most subjects with tri-allelic pattern at TPOX and demonstrates the transmission of the third allele from parents to offspring. The breakpoints of the ancestral extra copy are defined, which shows evidence of its inheritance from African populations. In addition, the simple validation method would help improve tri-allelic pattern calling, distinguish de novo chromosomal rearrangements, and also count the frequencies among different geographic regions. Therefore, the statistical interpretation of tri-allelic pattern at TPOX could be enhanced during forensic practice.
Keywords: Chromosome 2; Recombination; Short tandem repeats; TPOX; Tri-allelic pattern.