Lactase polymorphism in adult British natives: estimating allele frequencies by enzyme assays in autopsy samples

Am J Hum Genet. 1982 Jul;34(4):650-7.


In an attempt to estimate allele frequencies of lactase persistence in adult British natives, sucrase was assayed simultaneously with lactase under conditions that gave optimal activities for both enzymes. A trimodal distribution in the ratios of enzyme activities was demonstrated. Circumstantial evidence and statistical analyses suggest that the trimodal distribution is due to the different levels of lactase activity in the three genotypes--homozygous persistent, heterozygous, and homozygous nonpersistent, and that it is possible to correct for "nongenetic" variation by using sucrase as an internal standard. The allele frequency for lactase persistence was estimated to be .747. The implications of our findings on the genetic mechanisms involved in lactase persistence are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles*
  • Electrophoresis, Starch Gel
  • England
  • Galactosidases / genetics*
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Jejunum / enzymology
  • Lactose Intolerance / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Sucrase / genetics
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics*


  • Galactosidases
  • beta-Galactosidase
  • Sucrase