Age and origin of the FCMD 3′-untranslated-region retrotransposal insertion mutation causing Fukuyama-type congenital muscular dystrophy in the Japanese population
Fukuyama-type congenital muscular dystrophy (FCMD), an autosomal recessive disorder with a high prevalence in the Japanese population, is characterised by severe muscular dystrophy associated with brain malformation (cortical dysgenesis) and mental retardation. In Japan, 87% of FCMD-bearing chromosomes carry a 3-kb retrotransposal insertion of tandemly repeated sequences within the disease gene recently identified on chromosome 9q31, and most of them share a common founder haplotype. FCMD is the first human disease known to be caused primarily by an ancient retrotransposal integration. By applying two methods for the study of linkage disequilibrium between flanking polymorphic markers and the disease locus, and of its decay over time, the age of the insertion mutation causing FCMD in Japanese patients is calculated to be approximately 102 generations (95% confidence interval: 86-117 g), or slightly less. The estimated age dates the most recent common ancestor of the mutation-bearing chromosomes back to the time (or a few centuries before) the Yayoi people started migrating to Japan from the Korean peninsula. This finding makes the molecular population genetics of FCMD understandable in the context of Japan's history and the founder effect consistent with the prevalent theory on the origins of the modern Japanese population.