The serotonin transporter (5-HTT) gene is a promising candidate for introducing the heritability of interindividual variation in personality and the genetic susceptibility for various psychiatric diseases. Transcription of the gene is modulated by a common polymorphism in its upstream regulatory region (5-HTT gene-linked polymorphic region: 5-HTTLPR). The 5-HTTLPR consists of variation of the repetitive sequence containing GC-rich, 20-23-bp-long repeat elements. A deletion/insertion in the 5-HTTLPR was first reported to create a short (S) allele and a long (L) allele (14- and 16-repeats, respectively). Three other kinds of alleles (18-, 19- and 20-repeats) in addition to the S and L alleles in 5-HTTLPR have been reported. In the present study, we examined the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism in detail and identified ten novel sequence variants, concluding that the alleles reported as S and L are divided into four and six kinds of allelic variant, respectively. Subsequently, we developed a method for genotyping. The total number of alleles (14-A, 14-B, 14-C, 14-D, 15, 16-A, 16-B, 16-C, 16-D, 16-E, 16-F, 19, 20 and 22) in the 5-HTTLPR was 14 in our populations (Japanese: n = 131; Caucasian: n = 74) in the present study. In addition, a significant ethnic difference between Japanese and Caucasian populations was observed for distributions of alleles and genotypes (P < 0.0001 and P < 0.0001, respectively). Our results suggest that the analyses of the 5-HTTLPR should be revised by genotyping with a more complete subdivision of alleles. Molecular Psychiatry (2000) 5, 32-38.
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