Genetic Chaos

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes

Haplotypes constructed from Y-chromosome markers were used to trace the paternal origins of the Jewish Diaspora. A set of 18 biallelic polymorphisms was genotyped in 1,371 males from 29 populations, including 7 Jewish (Ashkenazi, Roman, North African, Kurdish, Near Eastern, Yemenite, and Ethiopian) and 16 non-Jewish groups from similar geographic locations. The Jewish populations were characterized by a diverse set of 13 haplotypes that were also present in non-Jewish populations from Africa, Asia, and Europe. A series of analyses was performed to address whether modern Jewish Y-chromosome diversity derives mainly from a common Middle Eastern source population or from admixture with neighboring non-Jewish populations during and after the Diaspora. Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level. Admixture estimates suggested low levels of European Y-chromosome gene flow into Ashkenazi and Roman Jewish communities. A multidimensional scaling plot placed six of the seven Jewish populations in a relatively tight cluster that was interspersed with Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations, including Palestinians and Syrians. Pairwise differentiation tests further indicated that these Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations were not statistically different. The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora.

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Y chromosome evidence for a founder effect in Ashkenazi Jews

Recent genetic studies, based on Y chromosome polymorphic markers, showed that Ashkenazi Jews are more closely related to other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than to their host populations in Europe. However, Ashkenazim have an elevated frequency of R-M17, the dominant Y chromosome haplogroup in Eastern Europeans, suggesting possible gene flow. In the present study of 495 Y chromosomes of Ashkenazim, 57 (11.5%) were found to belong to R-M17. Detailed analyses of haplotype structure, diversity and geographic distribution suggest a founder effect for this haplogroup, introduced at an early stage into the evolving Ashkenazi community in Europe. R-M17 chromosomes in Ashkenazim may represent vestiges of the mysterious Khazars.

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MtDNA and Y-chromosome Variation in Kurdish Groups

In order to investigate the origins and relationships of Kurdish-speaking groups, mtDNA HV1 sequences, eleven Y chromosome bi-allelic markers, and 9 Y-STR loci were analyzed among three Kurdish groups: Zazaki and Kurmanji speakers from Turkey, and Kurmanji speakers from Georgia. When compared with published data from other Kurdish groups and from European, Caucasian, and West and Central Asian groups, Kurdish groups are most similar genetically to other West Asian groups, and most distant from Central Asian groups, for both mtDNA and the Y-chromosome. However, Kurdish groups show a closer relationship with European groups than with Caucasian groups based on mtDNA, but the opposite based on the Y-chromosome, indicating some differences in their maternal and paternal histories. The genetic data indicate that the Georgian Kurdish group experienced a bottleneck effect during their migration to the Caucasus, and that they have not had detectable admixture with their geographic neighbours in Georgia. Our results also do not support the hypothesis of the origin of the Zazaki –speaking group being in northern Iran; genetically they are more similar to other Kurdish groups. Genetic analyses of recent events, such as the origins and migrations of Kurdish-speaking groups, can therefore lead to new insights into such migrations.

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The Matrilineal Ancestry of Ashkenazi Jewry: Portrait of a Recent Founder Event

Both the extent and location of the maternal ancestral deme from which the Ashkenazi Jewry arose remain obscure. Here, using complete sequences of the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), we show that close to one-half of Ashkenazi Jews, estimated at 8,000,000 people, can be traced back to only 4 women carrying distinct mtDNAs that are virtually absent in other populations, with the important exception of low frequencies among non-Ashkenazi Jews. We conclude that four founding mtDNAs, likely of Near Eastern ancestry, underwent major expansion(s) in Europe within the past millennium.

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LRRK2 G2019S in Families with Parkinson Disease Who Originated from Europe and the Middle East: Evidence of Two Distinct Founding Events Beginning Two Millennia Ago

The leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) G2019S mutation is the most common genetic determinant of Parkinson disease (PD) identified to date. It accounts for 1%–7% of PD in patients of European origin and 20%–40% in Ashkenazi Jews and North African Arabs with PD. Previous studies concluded that patients from these populations all shared a common Middle Eastern founder who lived in the 13th century. We tested this hypothesis by genotyping 25 microsatellite and single-nucleotide–polymorphism markers in 22 families with G2019S and observed two distinct haplotypes. Haplotype 1 was present in 19 families of Ashkenazi Jewish and European ancestry, whereas haplotype 2 occurred in three European American families. Using a maximum-likelihood method, we estimated that the families with haplotype 1 shared a common ancestor 2,250 (95% confidence interval 1,650–3,120) years ago, whereas those with haplotype 2 appeared to share a more recent founder. Our data suggest two separate founding events for G2019S in these populations, beginning at a time that coincides with the Jewish Diasporas.

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