Genetic Chaos

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Phylogeography of Brazilian Y-Chromosome Lineages

We examined DNA polymorphisms in the nonrecombining portion of the Y-chromosome to investigate the contribution of distinct patrilineages to the present-day white Brazilian population. Twelve unique-event polymorphisms were typed in 200 unrelated males from four geographical regions of Brazil and in 93 Portuguese males. In our Brazilian sample, the vast majority of Y-chromosomes proved to be of European origin. Indeed, there were no significant differences when the haplogroup frequencies in Brazil and Portugal were compared by means of an exact test of population differentiation. Y-chromosome typing was quite sensitive in the detection of regional immigration events. Distinct footprints of Italian immigration to southern Brazil, migration of Moroccan Jews to the Amazon region, and possible relics of the 17th-century Dutch invasion of northeast Brazil could be seen in the data. In sharp contrast with our mtDNA data in white Brazilians, which showed that >60% of the matrilineages were Amerindian or African, only 2.5% of the Y-chromosome lineages were from sub-Saharan Africa, and none were Amerindian. Together, these results configure a picture of strong directional mating between European males and Amerindian and African females, which agrees with the known history of the peopling of Brazil since 1500.

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The Ancestry of Brazilian mtDNA Lineages

We have analyzed 247 Brazilian mtDNAs for hypervariable segment (HVS)–I and selected restriction fragment length–polymorphism sites, to assess their ancestry in different continents. The total sample showed nearly equal amounts of Native American, African, and European matrilineal genetic contribution but with regional differences within Brazil. The mtDNA pool of present-day Brazilians clearly reflects the imprints of the early Portuguese colonization process (involving directional mating), as well as the recent immigrant waves (from Europe) of the last century. The subset of 99 mtDNAs from the southeastern region encompasses nearly all mtDNA haplogroups observed in the total Brazilian sample; for this regional subset, HVS-II was analyzed, providing, in particular, some novel details of the African mtDNA phylogeny.

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Mutation Analysis of the HFE Gene in Brazilian Populations

We analyzed the frequency of the C282Y and H63D mutations in the HFE gene in 227 individuals from Brazil comprising 71 Caucasians, 91 racially mixed Caucasian African-derived Amerindians (both populations from Southeast Brazil), 85 African-derived subjects (from Northeast Brazil) and 75 Parakanã Indians. Allelic frequency of the mutation C. 845G6A (C282Y) was 1.4% in the Caucasian population, 1.1% in the African-derived population, 1.1% in the racially mixed normal controls and 0% in the Parakanã Indians. In the African-derived population, the C282Y mutation was present on chromosomes bearing the haplotype 6/1h according to Beutler and West (1997). Allelic frequency of the mutation C. 187C6G (H63D) was 16.3% in the Caucasian population, 7.5% in the African-derived population, 9.8% in the racially mixed controls and 0% in the Amerindians. The presence of these mutations in the African-derived population reflects the fact that these subjects may have undergone a non-identified racial admixture in their past history. The absence of both defects in the Amerindians suggests that these mutations have emerged after the migration of Polynesians to America, or that they may not have reached the Polynesian population until after the migration to America had occurred.

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Genetic relationships among native americans based on β-globin gene cluster haplotype frequencies

The distribution of β-globin gene haplotypes was studied in 209 Amerindians from eight tribes of the Brazilian Amazon: Asurini from Xingú, Awá-Guajá, Parakanã, Urubú-Kaapór, Zoé, Kayapó (Xikrin from the Bacajá village), Katuena, and Tiriyó. Nine different haplotypes were found, two of which (n. 11 and 13) had not been previously identified in Brazilian indigenous populations. Haplotype 2 (+ - - - -) was the most common in all groups studied, with frequencies varying from 70% to 100%, followed by haplotype 6 (- + + - +), with frequencies between 7% and 18%. The frequency distribution of the β-globin gene haplotypes in the eighteen Brazilian Amerindian populations studied to date is characterized by a reduced number of haplotypes (average of 3.5) and low levels of heterozygosity and intrapopulational differentiation, with a single clearly predominant haplotype in most tribes (haplotype 2). The Parakanã, Urubú-Kaapór, Tiriyó and Xavante tribes constitute exceptions, presenting at least four haplotypes with relatively high frequencies. The closest genetic relationships were observed between the Brazilian and the Colombian Amerindians (Wayuu, Kamsa and Inga), and, to a lesser extent, with the Huichol of Mexico. North-American Amerindians are more differentiated and clearly separated from all other tribes, except the Xavante, from Brazil, and the Mapuche, from Argentina. A restricted pool of ancestral haplotypes may explain the low diversity observed among most present-day Brazilian and Colombian Amerindian groups, while interethnic admixture could be the most important factor to explain the high number of haplotypes and high levels of diversity observed in some South-American and most North-American tribes.

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Phylogeography of the human mitochondrial haplogroup L3e: a snapshot of African prehistory and Atlantic slave trade

The mtDNA haplogroup L3e, which is identified by the restriction site ­2349 MboI within the Afro-Eurasian superhaplogroup L3 (-3592 HpaI), is omnipresent in Africa but virtually absent in Eurasia (except for neighbouring areas with limited genetic exchange). L3e was hitherto poorly characterised in terms of HVS-I motifs, as the ancestral HVS-I type of L3e cannot be distinguished from the putative HVS-I ancestor of the entire L3 (differing from the CRS by a transition at np 16223). An MboI screening at np 2349 of a large number of Brazilian and Caribbean mtDNAs (encompassing numerous mtDNAs of African ancestry), now reveals that L3e is subdivided into four principal clades, each characterised by a single mutation in HVS-I, with additional support coming from HVS-II and partial RFLP analysis. The apparently oldest of these clades (transition at np 16327) occurs mainly in central Africa and was probably carried to southern Africa with the Bantu expansion(s). The most frequent clade (transition at np 16320) testiÆes to a pronounced expansion event in the mid-Holocene and seems to be prominent in many Bantu groups from all of Africa. In contrast, one clade (transition at np 16264) is essentially restricted to Atlantic western Africa (including Cabo Verde). We propose a tentative L3e phylogeny that is based on 197 HVS-I sequences. We conclude that haplogroup L3e originated in central or eastern Africa about 46,000 (plus or minus 14,000) years ago, and was a hitchhiker of much later dispersal and local expansion events, with the rise of food production and iron smelting. Enforced migration of African slaves to the Americas translocated L3e mitochondria, the descendants of which in Brazil and the Caribbean still reflect their different regional African ancestries.

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