Two dinucleotide short tandem-repeat polymorphisms (STRPs) and a polymorphic Alu element spanning a 22-kb region of the PLAT locus on chromosome 8p12-q11.2 were typed in 1,287-1,420 individuals originating from 30 geographically diverse human populations, as well as in 29 great apes. These data were analyzed as haplotypes consisting of each of the dinucleotide repeats and the flanking Alu insertion/deletion polymorphism. The global pattern of STRP/Alu haplotype variation and linkage disequilibrium (LD) is informative for the reconstruction of human evolutionary history. Sub-Saharan African populations have high levels of haplotype diversity within and between populations, relative to non-Africans, and have highly divergent patterns of LD. Non-African populations have both a subset of the haplotype diversity present in Africa and a distinct pattern of LD. The pattern of haplotype variation and LD observed at the PLAT locus suggests a recent common ancestry of non-African populations, from a small population originating in eastern Africa. These data indicate that, throughout much of modern human history, sub-Saharan Africa has maintained both a large effective population size and a high level of population substructure. Additionally, Papua New Guinean and Micronesian populations have rare haplotypes observed otherwise only in African populations, suggesting ancient gene flow from Africa into Papua New Guinea, as well as gene flow between Melanesian and Micronesian populations.
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