Origin and affinities of indigenous Siberian populations as revealed by HLA class II gene frequencies
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Gene frequencies of eight Siberian populations (Mansi, Tuva, Todja, Tofalar, Buryat, Okhotsk Evenki, Ulchi, and Negidal) were determined for the three most polymorphic HLA class II loci (DRB1, DQA1, and DQB1) by a combination of single-stranded conformational polymorphism typing and DNA sequencing. The number of alleles per population ranged from 16 to 25, from seven to eight, and from nine to 14 for the DRB1, DQA1, and DQB1 loci, respectively. The alleles at the three loci occurred in 66 different combinations (haplotypes), most of which appeared to be of ancient origin, but some may have arisen within the Siberian populations. Phylogenetic analysis of the frequency data suggests that the HLA genes of Asian and indigenous American populations stem from a single pool distinct from the gene pools of European and African populations. The Asian populations separate into two clusters, one of which encompasses nearly all the Siberian populations and all the indigenous American populations tested, while the other consists of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Asian populations. The position of the Tuva people appears to be near the node from which the two clusters diverge. The divergence time of the two clusters is estimated to be 21,000–24,000 years BP. Three different branches of the native Siberian peoples seem to have contributed founders for the indigenous American ethnic groups.
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