The frequencies of hemoglobin E and βE-globin gene haplotypes were determined in eight minority groups living in the northeastern part of Thailand. A total of 478 samples of eight minority groups, namely Soui, Thai Khmer, So, Yor, Phuthai, Thai Puan, Thai Loei and Thai Dam, were examined. High prevalences of hemoglobin E (>50%) were observed in Soui, Thai Khmer, So, Yor and Phuthai inhabiting the region near Cambodia and Laos. Thai Puan, Thai Loei, Thai Dam and native Thai living in the same geographical area had prevalences of 42.6, 35.9, 21.4 and 27.9%, respectively. A prevalence of 9.5% was found among the Thai with Chinese background living in the same area. β-Globin gene haplotypes analysis demonstrated that most of the βE-globin genes in these Thai populations were associated with two haplotypes: (– + – + + + –) and (+ – – – – + –) on chromosomes with framework 2 variety. Some βE-globin genes in Soui and Thai Khmer groups were associated with the framework 3 chromosome. Genetic distances based on the β-globin gene haplotypes between minority groups revealed that Soui and Thai Khmer were closely related to each other. This finding has a valuable implication for study of the origin and spread of hemoglobin E in the region.

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