Melanesians and Polynesians share a unique alpha-thalassemia mutation.
Hill AV., Bowden DK., Trent RJ., Higgs DR., Oppenheimer SJ., Thein SL., Mickleson KN., Weatherall DJ., Clegg JB.
Several genetic markers that provide information on population migrations and affinities have been detected by studies of proteins and cellular antigens in blood. Analysis of DNA polymorphisms promises to yield many further population markers, and we report here the distribution of a new alpha-globin gene deletion (-alpha 3.7 III) detected by a restriction enzyme mapping. This is found frequently in Melanesians and Polynesians but not in five other populations in which alpha-thalassemia is prevalent. We used restriction enzyme haplotype analysis to support a single origin for this mutation and propose that it is a useful population marker. Its geographical distribution supports a route through Island Melanesia for the colonizers of Polynesia.