Genetic Chaos

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Origin and Diffusion of mtDNA Haplogroup X

A maximum parsimony tree of 21 complete mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences belonging to haplogroup X and the survey of the haplogroup-associated polymorphisms in 13,589 mtDNAs from Eurasia and Africa revealed that haplogroup X is subdivided into two major branches, here defined as “X1” and “X2.” The first is restricted to the populations of North and East Africa and the Near East, whereas X2 encompasses all X mtDNAs from Europe, western and Central Asia, Siberia, and the great majority of the Near East, as well as some North African samples. Subhaplogroup X1 diversity indicates an early coalescence time, whereas X2 has apparently undergone a more recent population expansion in Eurasia, most likely around or after the last glacial maximum. It is notable that X2 includes the two complete Native American X sequences that constitute the distinctive X2a clade, a clade that lacks close relatives in the entire Old World, including Siberia. The position of X2a in the phylogenetic tree suggests an early split from the other X2 clades, likely at the very beginning of their expansion and spread from the Near East.

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mtDNA Haplogroup X: An Ancient Link between Europe/Western Asia and North America?

On the basis of comprehensive RFLP analysis, it has been inferred that ª97% of Native American mtDNAs belong to one of four major founding mtDNA lineages, designated haplogroups “A”–“D.” It has been proposed that a fifth mtDNA haplogroup (haplogroup X) represents a minor founding lineage in Native Americans. Unlike haplogroups A–D, haplogroup X is also found at low frequencies in modern European populations. To investigate the origins, diversity, and continental relationships of this haplogroup, we performed mtDNA high-resolution RFLP and complete control region (CR) sequence analysis on 22 putative Native American haplogroup X and 14 putative European haplogroup X mtDNAs. The results identified a consensus haplogroup X motif that characterizes our European and Native American samples. Among Native Americans, haplogroup X appears to be essentially restricted to northern Amerindian groups, including the Ojibwa, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth, the Sioux, and the Yakima, although we also observed this haplogroup in the Na-Dene–speaking Navajo. Median network analysis indicated that European and Native American haplogroup X mtDNAs, although distinct, nevertheless are distantly related to each other. Time estimates for the arrival of X in North America are 12,000–36,000 years ago, depending on the number of assumed founders, thus supporting the conclusion that the peoples harboring haplogroup X were among the original founders of Native American populations. To date, haplogroup X has not been unambiguously identified in Asia, raising the possibility that some Native American founders were of Caucasian ancestry.

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Brief Communication: Haplogroup X Confirmed in Prehistoric North America

Haplogroup X represents approximately 3% of all modern Native North American mitochondrial lineages. Using RFLP and hypervariable segment I (HVSI) sequence analyses, we identified a prehistoric individual radiocarbon dated to 1,340 plus or minus 40 years BP that is a member of haplogroup X, found near the Columbia River in Vantage, Washington. The presence of haplogroup X in prehistoric North America, along with recent findings of haplogroup X in southern Siberians, confirms the hypothesis that haplogroup X is a founding lineage.

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