Serotonin transporter protein (SLC6A4) allele and haplotype frequencies and linkage disequilibria in African- and European-American and Japanese populations and in alcohol-dependent subjects

Hum Genet. 1997 Dec;101(2):243-6. doi: 10.1007/s004390050624.


The SLC6A4 locus encodes the serotonin transporter, which in turn mediates the synaptic inactivation of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Two PCR-formatted polymorphisms at this locus have been described, the first of which is a variable number tandem repeat located in exon 2, and the second a repeat sequence polymorphism located in the promoter region. The latter polymorphism alters transcriptional activity of SLC6A4, and has been reported to be associated with anxiety and depression-related traits. We studied allele frequencies, and computed haplotype frequencies and linkage disequilibrium measures, for these two polymorphisms in European-American, African-American, and Japanese populations, and in a set of alcohol-dependent European-American subjects. Allele frequencies for both systems showed variation, with significant differences overall for each system, and significant differences between each pair of populations for both systems. Linkage disequilibrium also varied among the populations. There were no significant differences in allele or haplotype frequencies between the European-American population samples and alcohol-dependent subjects. The population differences demonstrate a potential for population stratification in association studies of either of these SLC6A4 polymorphisms. If genetic variation at this locus really is associated with behavioral variation, these results could reflect either different behavioral adaptations in different populations, or random genetic drift of a behaviorally important but selectively neutral polymorphism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group / genetics
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Alleles
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Europe / ethnology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Linkage Disequilibrium*
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • SLC6A4 protein, human
  • Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins