The International HapMap Project is a resource for researchers containing genotype, sequencing, and expression information for EBV-transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from populations across the world. The expansion of the HapMap beyond the four initial populations of Phase 2, referred to as Phase 3, has increased the sample number and ethnic diversity available for investigation. However, differences in the rate of cellular proliferation between the populations can serve as confounders in phenotype-genotype studies using these cell lines. Within the Phase 2 populations, the JPT and CHB cell lines grow faster (p < 0.0001) than the CEU or YRI cell lines. Phase 3 YRI cell lines grow significantly slower than Phase 2 YRI lines (p < 0.0001), with no widespread genetic differences based on common SNPs. In addition, we found significant growth differences between the cell lines in the Phase 2 ASN populations and the Han Chinese from the Denver metropolitan area panel in Phase 3 (p < 0.0001). Therefore, studies that separate HapMap panels into discovery and replication sets must take this into consideration.
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