• GSTM1;
  • CNV;
  • deletion polymorphism;
  • ethnicity


Several variants have been identified for genes encoding Glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzymes; some are associated with significant alteration of protein function. One of the most extensively studied is a copy number variant (CNV) in the GSTM1 gene. In this study, we compared phenotype (positive, null) and genotype (1/1, 1/0, 0/0) methods in order to assess dissimilarities obtained using these two different approaches to evaluate possible methodology-related bias. We analyzed a sample of 1947 individuals belonging to 18 human populations with different ethnic origins. We also evaluated whether the presence of missense substitutions in the GSTM1 gene might influence the association of the CNV with phenotype distribution.

Through the comparison of GSTM1 CNV frequencies in phenotype and genotype among human populations, we observed that differences increase in high heterogeneous populations. Furthermore, we identified two missense variants (rs199816990 and rs202002774) that may distort the outcome of genetic association studies on Asian populations.

These results indicate that the phenotype analysis may strongly alter the genetic association. Therefore, genotype discrimination analysis should be used to analyze GSTM1 CNV. To understand the role of GSTM1 in human health, the analysis of CNV should be combined with the investigation of single nucleotide polymorphisms with functional effect.