Uncovering population structure is important for properly conducting association studies and for examining the demographic history of a population. Here, we examined the Japanese population substructure using data from the Japan Multi-Institutional Collaborative Cohort (J-MICC), which covers all but the northern region of Japan. Using 222 autosomal loci from 4502 subjects, we investigated population substructure by estimating F ST among populations, testing population differentiation, and performing principal component analysis (PCA) and correspondence analysis (CA). All analyses revealed a low but significant differentiation between the Amami Islanders and the mainland Japanese population. Furthermore, we examined the genetic differentiation between the mainland population, Amami Islanders and Okinawa Islanders using six loci included in both the Pan-Asian SNP (PASNP) consortium data and the J-MICC data. This analysis revealed that the Amami and Okinawa Islanders were differentiated from the mainland population. In conclusion, we revealed a low but significant level of genetic differentiation between the mainland population and populations in or to the south of the Amami Islands, although genetic variation between both populations might be clinal. Therefore, the possibility of population stratification must be considered when enrolling the islander population of this area, such as in the J-MICC study.
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