DRD2 haplotypes containing the taqI A1 allele: Implications for alcoholism research

Kenneth K. Kidd*, Andrew J. Pakstis, Carmela M. Castiglione, Judith R. Kidd, William C. Speed, David Goldman, William C. Knowler, Ru Band Lu, Batsheva Bonne-Tamir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, a possible role of the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) locus in the etiology of alcoholism has been the focus of considerable attention. The literature now contains a mix of association studies with positive and negative conclusions. Various methodological flaws undermine the claims in many of the studies that conclude a positive association exists between alcoholism and the DRD2*A1 allele at the TaqI 'A' site. Although the studies with negative findings have more often come from studies using better analytic methodology, satisfactory resolution of whether or not genetic variation at the DRD2 locus plays some role in the etiology of alcoholism is unlikely to come from additional studies of the kind conducted thus far;, an approach enlightened by a more thorough understanding of the population genetics of DRD2 and the phylogenetic origins of the DRD2 alleles is one alternative. If genetic variation at the DRD2 locus affects susceptibility to alcoholism, than such variation has a mutational and evolutionary history that can be traced with the aid of the various genetic polymorphisms that have been identified at the DRD2 locus. In this study, a third TaqI restriction fragment-length polymorphism st DRD2, the TaqI 'D' site, has been converted to polymerase chain reaction-based typing and its frequencies determined in 22 populations from around the world. Haplotypes defined by the polymorphisms at the TaqI 'B' and 'A' sites, and the short tandem repeat polymorphism in intron 2 have been constructed and the diversity of haplotypes containing the DRD2*A1 allele examined for all 22 populations. The ancestral origins of the three TaqI polymorphisms have also been determined by sequencing the homologous regions in other higher primates. Because A1-containing haplotypes in populations of European, Middle Eastern, and African origin show considerable diversity within and among populations, properly designed association studies in populations descended from those areas of the world need to use haplotypes, not a single allelic system, and need to use appropriate methods to compensate for the near impossibility of genetically matching unrelated control samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-705
Number of pages9
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996


  • Alcoholism
  • DRD2
  • Haplotype
  • Polymorphism
  • Population Genetics


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