, Volume 49, Issue 2, pp 204-214

Divergent Human Y-Chromosome Microsatellite Evolution Rates

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In this work, we analyze several characteristics influencing the low variability of the microsatellite DYS19 in the major founder Amerindian Y chromosome lineage containing the point mutation DYS199-T. Variation of DYS19 was compared with that of five other Y-linked tetranucleotide repeat loci (DYS389A, DYS389B, DYS390, DYS391, and DYS393) in the DYS199-T lineage. All the other microsatellites showed significantly higher levels of variability than DYS19 as measured by gene diversity and repeat number variance. Moreover, we had previously shown that DYS19 had high diversity in Brazilians and in several other populations worldwide. Thus, the slow DYS19 evolution in the DYS199-T lineage seems to be both locus and allele specific. To understand the slow DYS19 evolutionary rate, the microsatellite loci were compared according to their mapping on the Y chromosome and also on the basis of structural aspects such as the base composition of the repeat motif and flanking regions and the degree of perfection and size (repeat number) of the variable blocks. The only observed difference that might be related to the low DYS19 variability is its small average number of repeats, a value expected to be closer to the founder DYS19 allele in the DYS199-T lineage. These data were also compared to other derived Y lineages. The Tat-C lineage displayed a lower DYS19 variability correlated to a small average repeat number, while in the DYS234-G lineage, a high DYS19 variability was found associated to a larger average repeat number. This approach reveals that evolution of Y microsatellites in lineages defined by slowly evolving markers, such as point mutations, can be greatly influenced by the size (number of repeats of the variable block) of the founder allele in each microsatellite locus. Thus lineage-dating methods using microsatellite variation should be practiced with great care.

Received: 7 November 1998 / Accepted: 9 April 1999