In this study we report on the allele frequency data of 74 microhap loci (230 SNPs) included in a newly developed 74-plex assay.
Microhaplotypes (microhaps or MHs) are novel forensically relevant genetic markers that demand large and appropriate allele frequency datasets for their implementation in casework. In the current project, the panel was tested on the Ion S5 system on a total of 347 samples from four main U.S. population groups of African, European, East Asian and Southwest Hispanic descent. Overall, frequencies of individual alleles at each locus varied considerably among the different population groups. An increase in the average value of gene diversity was also observed as the number of SNPs per locus increased. Most microhap markers showed no significant deviation from Hardy-Weinberg ratios within any of the individual population samples displaying an average power of discrimination between 0.74 and 0.81 and an average probability of exclusion between 0.32 and 0.39. Moreover, the four population groups had no clear genetic affinities with the exception of U.S. European and U.S. Southwest Hispanic populations, which showed the lowest FST value. STRUCTURE and principal component analyses (PCA) analysis resulted in effective clustering of the four populations with the U.S. European and Southwest Hispanic showing some overlap. These results support the potential use of this sequence-based 74plex-microhaplotype assay for ancestry inference in addition to previously reported human identification and mixture deconvolution capabilities. (Publisher Abstract)