Fine-scale population structure of Malays in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore and implications for association studies
OPEN Human genomics | 22 Jul 2015
BP Hoh, L Deng, MJ Julia-Ashazila, Z Zuraihan, M Nur-Hasnah, AR Nur-Shafawati, WI Hatin, I Endom, BA Zilfalil, Y Khalid and S Xu
Fine scale population structure of Malays - the major population in Malaysia, has not been well studied. This may have important implications for both evolutionary and medical studies. Here, we investigated the population sub-structure of Malay involving 431 samples collected from all states from peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. We identified two major clusters of individuals corresponding to the north and south peninsular Malaysia. On an even finer scale, the genetic coordinates of the geographical Malay populations are in correlation with the latitudes (R(2) = 0.3925; P = 0.029). This finding is further supported by the pairwise FST of Malay sub-populations, of which the north and south regions showed the highest differentiation (FST [North-south] = 0.0011). The collective findings therefore suggest that population sub-structure of Malays are more heterogenous than previously expected even within a small geographical region, possibly due to factors like different genetic origins, geographical isolation, could result in spurious association as demonstrated in our analysis. We suggest that cautions should be taken during the stage of study design or interpreting the association signals in disease mapping studies which are expected to be conducted in Malay population in the near future.
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