Comparison of different metrics, using three large samples of haplotypes from different populations, demonstrates that ρ is the most efficient measure of association between pairs of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Pairwise data can be modeled, using composite likelihood, to describe the decline in linkage disequilibrium with distance (the Malecot model). The evidence from more isolated populations (Finland, Sardinia) suggests that linkage disequilibrium extends to 427–893 kb but, even in samples representative of large heterogeneous populations, such as CEPH, the extent is 385 kb or greater. This suggests that isolated populations are not essential for linkage disequilibrium mapping of common diseases with SNPs. The ∈ parameter of the Malecot model (recombination and time), evaluated at each SNP, indicates regions of the genome with extensive and less extensive disequilibrium (low and high values of ∈ respectively). When plotted against the physical map, the regions with extensive and less extensive linkage disequilibrium may correspond to recombination cold and hot spots. This is discussed in relation to the Xq25 cytogenetic band and the HFE gene region. Hum Mutat 17:255–262, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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