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1.  Uniparental Genetic Heritage of Belarusians: Encounter of Rare Middle Eastern Matrilineages with a Central European Mitochondrial DNA Pool 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66499.
Ethnic Belarusians make up more than 80% of the nine and half million people inhabiting the Republic of Belarus. Belarusians together with Ukrainians and Russians represent the East Slavic linguistic group, largest both in numbers and territory, inhabiting East Europe alongside Baltic-, Finno-Permic- and Turkic-speaking people. Till date, only a limited number of low resolution genetic studies have been performed on this population. Therefore, with the phylogeographic analysis of 565 Y-chromosomes and 267 mitochondrial DNAs from six well covered geographic sub-regions of Belarus we strove to complement the existing genetic profile of eastern Europeans. Our results reveal that around 80% of the paternal Belarusian gene pool is composed of R1a, I2a and N1c Y-chromosome haplogroups – a profile which is very similar to the two other eastern European populations – Ukrainians and Russians. The maternal Belarusian gene pool encompasses a full range of West Eurasian haplogroups and agrees well with the genetic structure of central-east European populations. Our data attest that latitudinal gradients characterize the variation of the uniparentally transmitted gene pools of modern Belarusians. In particular, the Y-chromosome reflects movements of people in central-east Europe, starting probably as early as the beginning of the Holocene. Furthermore, the matrilineal legacy of Belarusians retains two rare mitochondrial DNA haplogroups, N1a3 and N3, whose phylogeographies were explored in detail after de novo sequencing of 20 and 13 complete mitogenomes, respectively, from all over Eurasia. Our phylogeographic analyses reveal that two mitochondrial DNA lineages, N3 and N1a3, both of Middle Eastern origin, might mark distinct events of matrilineal gene flow to Europe: during the mid-Holocene period and around the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, respectively.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066499
PMCID: PMC3681942  PMID: 23785503
2.  A Novel 154-bp Deletion in the Human Mitochondrial DNA Control Region in Healthy Individuals 
Human mutation  2008;29(12):1387-1391.
The biological role of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region in mtDNA replication remains unclear. In a worldwide survey of mtDNA variation in the general population, we have identified a novel large control region deletion spanning positions 16154 to 16307 (m.16154_16307del154). The population prevalence of this deletion is low, since it was only observed in 1 out of over 120,000 mtDNA genomes studied. The deletion is present in a nonheteroplasmic state, and was transmitted by a mother to her two sons with no apparent past or present disease conditions. The identification of this large deletion in healthy individuals challenges the current view of the control region as playing a crucial role in the regulation of mtDNA replication, and supports the existence of a more complex system of multiple or epigenetically-determined replication origins.
doi:10.1002/humu.20835
PMCID: PMC2697596  PMID: 18629826
mitochondrial DNA; mtDNA; control region; replication
3.  Complex cytogenetic rearrangements at the DURS1 locus in syndromic Duane retraction syndrome 
Clinical case reports  2013;1(1):10.1002/ccr3.11.
doi:10.1002/ccr3.11
PMCID: PMC3885256  PMID: 24416505
Duane retraction syndrome; DURS1; 8q12 microduplication syndrome; cytogenetics; copy number variation
4.  Neolithic mitochondrial haplogroup H genomes and the genetic origins of Europeans 
Nature communications  2013;4:1764.
Haplogroup (hg) H dominates present-day Western European mitochondrial (mt) DNA variability (>40%), yet was less common (~19%) amongst Early Neolithic farmers (~5450 BC) and virtually absent in Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. Here we investigate this major component of the maternal population history of modern Europeans and sequence 39 complete hg H mitochondrial genomes from ancient human remains. We then compare this ‘real-time’ genetic data with cultural changes taking place between the Early Neolithic (~5450 BC) and Bronze Age (~2200 BC) in Central Europe. Our results reveal that the current diversity and distribution of hg H were largely established by the Mid-Neolithic (~4000 BC), but with substantial genetic contributions from subsequent pan-European cultures such as the Bell Beakers expanding out of Iberia in the Late Neolithic (~2800 BC). Dated hg H genomes allow us to reconstruct the recent evolutionary history of hg H and reveal a mutation rate 45% higher than current estimates for human mitochondria.
doi:10.1038/ncomms2656
PMCID: PMC3978205  PMID: 23612305
5.  Identification of a novel mutation in the PNLIP gene in two brothers with congenital pancreatic lipase deficiency 
Journal of Lipid Research  2014;55(2):307-312.
Congenital pancreatic lipase (PNLIP) deficiency is a rare monoenzymatic form of exocrine pancreatic failure characterized by decreased absorption of dietary fat and greasy voluminous stools, but apparent normal development and an overall good state of health. While considered to be an autosomal recessive state affecting a few dozens of individuals world-wide and involving the PNLIP gene, no causative mutations for this phenotype were so far reported. Here, we report the identification of the homozygote missense mutation, Thr221Met [c.662C>T], in two brothers from a consanguineous family of Arab ancestry. The observed genotypes among the family members were concordant with an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance but moreover a clear segregation between the genotype state and the serum PNLIP activity was evident. Based on biophysical computational tools, we suggest the mutation disrupts the protein's stability and impairs its normal function. Although the role of PNLIP is well established, our observations provide genetic evidence that PNLIP mutations are causative for this phenotype.
doi:10.1194/jlr.P041103
PMCID: PMC3886669  PMID: 24262094
dietary fat; absorption; consanguineous; Arab
6.  Distinguishing the co-ancestries of haplogroup G Y-chromosomes in the populations of Europe and the Caucasus 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2012;20(12):1275-1282.
Haplogroup G, together with J2 clades, has been associated with the spread of agriculture, especially in the European context. However, interpretations based on simple haplogroup frequency clines do not recognize underlying patterns of genetic diversification. Although progress has been recently made in resolving the haplogroup G phylogeny, a comprehensive survey of the geographic distribution patterns of the significant sub-clades of this haplogroup has not been conducted yet. Here we present the haplogroup frequency distribution and STR variation of 16 informative G sub-clades by evaluating 1472 haplogroup G chromosomes belonging to 98 populations ranging from Europe to Pakistan. Although no basal G-M201* chromosomes were detected in our data set, the homeland of this haplogroup has been estimated to be somewhere nearby eastern Anatolia, Armenia or western Iran, the only areas characterized by the co-presence of deep basal branches as well as the occurrence of high sub-haplogroup diversity. The P303 SNP defines the most frequent and widespread G sub-haplogroup. However, its sub-clades have more localized distribution with the U1-defined branch largely restricted to Near/Middle Eastern and the Caucasus, whereas L497 lineages essentially occur in Europe where they likely originated. In contrast, the only U1 representative in Europe is the G-M527 lineage whose distribution pattern is consistent with regions of Greek colonization. No clinal patterns were detected suggesting that the distributions are rather indicative of isolation by distance and demographic complexities.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.86
PMCID: PMC3499744  PMID: 22588667
Y-chromosome; haplogroup G; human evolution; population genetics
7.  Complex cytogenetic rearrangements at the DURS1 locus in syndromic Duane retraction syndrome 
Clinical Case Reports  2013;1(1):30-37.
Key Clinical Message
A patient with syndromic Duane retraction syndrome harbors a chromosome 811.1q13.2 inversion and 8p11.1-q12.3 marker chromosome containing subregions with differing mosaicism and allele frequencies. This case highlights the potential requirement for multiple genetic methods to gain insight into genotype–phenotype correlation, and ultimately into molecular mechanisms that underlie human disease.
doi:10.1002/ccr3.11
PMCID: PMC3885256  PMID: 24416505
8q12 microduplication syndrome; copy number variation; cytogenetics; Duane retraction syndrome; DURS1
8.  Divorcing the Late Upper Palaeolithic demographic histories of mtDNA haplogroups M1 and U6 in Africa 
Background
A Southwest Asian origin and dispersal to North Africa in the Early Upper Palaeolithic era has been inferred in previous studies for mtDNA haplogroups M1 and U6. Both haplogroups have been proposed to show similar geographic patterns and shared demographic histories.
Results
We report here 24 M1 and 33 U6 new complete mtDNA sequences that allow us to refine the existing phylogeny of these haplogroups. The resulting phylogenetic information was used to genotype a further 131 M1 and 91 U6 samples to determine the geographic spread of their sub-clades. No southwest Asian specific clades for M1 or U6 were discovered. U6 and M1 frequencies in North Africa, the Middle East and Europe do not follow similar patterns, and their sub-clade divisions do not appear to be compatible with their shared history reaching back to the Early Upper Palaeolithic. The Bayesian Skyline Plots testify to non-overlapping phases of expansion, and the haplogroups’ phylogenies suggest that there are U6 sub-clades that expanded earlier than those in M1. Some M1 and U6 sub-clades could be linked with certain events. For example, U6a1 and M1b, with their coalescent ages of ~20,000–22,000 years ago and earliest inferred expansion in northwest Africa, could coincide with the flourishing of the Iberomaurusian industry, whilst U6b and M1b1 appeared at the time of the Capsian culture.
Conclusions
Our high-resolution phylogenetic dissection of both haplogroups and coalescent time assessments suggest that the extant main branching pattern of both haplogroups arose and diversified in the mid-later Upper Palaeolithic, with some sub-clades concomitantly with the expansion of the Iberomaurusian industry. Carriers of these maternal lineages have been later absorbed into and diversified further during the spread of Afro-Asiatic languages in North and East Africa.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-12-234
PMCID: PMC3582464  PMID: 23206491
mtDNA haplogroups M1 and U6; Afro-Asiatic languages; North Africa
9.  Population Genetic Structure in Indian Austroasiatic Speakers: The Role of Landscape Barriers and Sex-Specific Admixture 
Molecular biology and evolution  2010;28(2):1013-1024.
The geographic origin and time of dispersal of Austroasiatic (AA) speakers, presently settled in south and southeast Asia, remains disputed. Two rival hypotheses, both assuming a demic component to the language dispersal, have been proposed. The first of these places the origin of Austroasiatic speakers in southeast Asia with a later dispersal to south Asia during the Neolithic, whereas the second hypothesis advocates pre-Neolithic origins and dispersal of this language family from south Asia. To test the two alternative models, this study combines the analysis of uniparentally inherited markers with 610,000 common single nucleotide polymorphism loci from the nuclear genome. Indian AA speakers have high frequencies of Y chromosome haplogroup O2a; our results show that this haplogroup has significantly higher diversity and coalescent time (17–28 thousand years ago) in southeast Asia, strongly supporting the first of the two hypotheses. Nevertheless, the results of principal component and “structure-like” analyses on autosomal loci also show that the population history of AA speakers in India is more complex, being characterized by two ancestral components—one represented in the pattern of Y chromosomal and EDAR results and the other by mitochondrial DNA diversity and genomic structure. We propose that AA speakers in India today are derived from dispersal from southeast Asia, followed by extensive sex-specific admixture with local Indian populations.
doi:10.1093/molbev/msq288
PMCID: PMC3355372  PMID: 20978040
Austroasiatic; mtDNA; Y chromosome; autosomes; admixture
10.  Genetic Continuity in the Franco-Cantabrian Region: New Clues from Autochthonous Mitogenomes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32851.
Background
The Late Glacial Maximum (LGM), ∼20 thousand years ago (kya), is thought to have forced the people inhabiting vast areas of northern and central Europe to retreat to southern regions characterized by milder climatic conditions. Archaeological records indicate that Franco-Cantabria might have been the major source for the re-peopling of Europe at the beginning of the Holocene (11.5 kya). However, genetic evidence is still scarce and has been the focus of an intense debate.
Methods/Principal Findings
Based on a survey of more than 345,000 partial control region sequences and the analysis of 53 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genomes, we identified an mtDNA lineage, HV4a1a, which most likely arose in the Franco-Cantabrian area about 5.4 kya and remained confined to northern Iberia.
Conclusions/Significance
The HV4a1a lineage and several of its younger branches reveal for the first time genetic continuity in this region and long-term episodes of isolation. This, in turn, could at least in part explain the unique linguistic and cultural features of the Basque region.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032851
PMCID: PMC3307710  PMID: 22442672
11.  Population expansion in the North African Late Pleistocene signalled by mitochondrial DNA haplogroup U6 
Background
The archaeology of North Africa remains enigmatic, with questions of population continuity versus discontinuity taking centre-stage. Debates have focused on population transitions between the bearers of the Middle Palaeolithic Aterian industry and the later Upper Palaeolithic populations of the Maghreb, as well as between the late Pleistocene and Holocene.
Results
Improved resolution of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup U6 phylogeny, by the screening of 39 new complete sequences, has enabled us to infer a signal of moderate population expansion using Bayesian coalescent methods. To ascertain the time for this expansion, we applied both a mutation rate accounting for purifying selection and one with an internal calibration based on four approximate archaeological dates: the settlement of the Canary Islands, the settlement of Sardinia and its internal population re-expansion, and the split between haplogroups U5 and U6 around the time of the first modern human settlement of the Near East.
Conclusions
A Bayesian skyline plot placed the main expansion in the time frame of the Late Pleistocene, around 20 ka, and spatial smoothing techniques suggested that the most probable geographic region for this demographic event was to the west of North Africa. A comparison with U6's European sister clade, U5, revealed a stronger population expansion at around this time in Europe. Also in contrast with U5, a weak signal of a recent population expansion in the last 5,000 years was observed in North Africa, pointing to a moderate impact of the late Neolithic on the local population size of the southern Mediterranean coast.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-390
PMCID: PMC3016289  PMID: 21176127
12.  Missense mutations in the APOL1 gene are highly associated with end stage kidney disease risk previously attributed to the MYH9 gene 
Human Genetics  2010;128(3):345-350.
MYH9 has been proposed as a major genetic risk locus for a spectrum of nondiabetic end stage kidney disease (ESKD). We use recently released sequences from the 1000 Genomes Project to identify two western African-specific missense mutations (S342G and I384M) in the neighboring APOL1 gene, and demonstrate that these are more strongly associated with ESKD than previously reported MYH9 variants. The APOL1 gene product, apolipoprotein L-1, has been studied for its roles in trypanosomal lysis, autophagic cell death, lipid metabolism, as well as vascular and other biological activities. We also show that the distribution of these newly identified APOL1 risk variants in African populations is consistent with the pattern of African ancestry ESKD risk previously attributed to MYH9.
Mapping by admixture linkage disequilibrium (MALD) localized an interval on chromosome 22, in a region that includes the MYH9 gene, which was shown to contain African ancestry risk variants associated with certain forms of ESKD (Kao et al. 2008; Kopp et al. 2008). MYH9 encodes nonmuscle myosin heavy chain IIa, a major cytoskeletal nanomotor protein expressed in many cell types, including podocyte cells of the renal glomerulus. Moreover, 39 different coding region mutations in MYH9 have been identified in patients with a group of rare syndromes, collectively termed the Giant Platelet Syndromes, with clear autosomal dominant inheritance, and various clinical manifestations, sometimes also including glomerular pathology and chronic kidney disease (Kopp 2010; Sekine et al. 2010). Accordingly, MYH9 was further explored in these studies as the leading candidate gene responsible for the MALD signal. Dense mapping of MYH9 identified individual single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and sets of such SNPs grouped as haplotypes that were found to be highly associated with a large and important group of ESKD risk phenotypes, which as a consequence were designated as MYH9-associated nephropathies (Bostrom and Freedman 2010). These included HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN), primary nonmonogenic forms of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, and hypertension affiliated chronic kidney disease not attributed to other etiologies (Bostrom and Freedman 2010). The MYH9 SNP and haplotype associations observed with these forms of ESKD yielded the largest odds ratios (OR) reported to date for the association of common variants with common disease risk (Winkler et al. 2010). Two specific MYH9 variants (rs5750250 of S-haplotype and rs11912763 of F-haplotype) were designated as most strongly predictive on the basis of Receiver Operating Characteristic analysis (Nelson et al. 2010). These MYH9 association studies were then also extended to earlier stage and related kidney disease phenotypes and to population groups with varying degrees of recent African ancestry admixture (Behar et al. 2010; Freedman et al. 2009a, b; Nelson et al. 2010), and led to the expectation of finding a functional African ancestry causative variant within MYH9. However, despite intensive efforts including re-sequencing of the MYH9 gene no suggested functional mutation has been identified (Nelson et al. 2010; Winkler et al. 2010). This led us to re-examine the interval surrounding MYH9 and to the detection of novel missense mutations with predicted functional effects in the neighboring APOL1 gene, which are significantly more associated with ESKD than all previously reported SNPs in MYH9.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00439-010-0861-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00439-010-0861-0
PMCID: PMC2921485  PMID: 20635188
13.  African ancestry allelic variation at the MYH9 gene contributes to increased susceptibility to non-diabetic end-stage kidney disease in Hispanic Americans 
Human Molecular Genetics  2010;19(9):1816-1827.
Recent studies identified MYH9 as a major susceptibility gene for common forms of non-diabetic end-stage kidney disease (ESKD). A set of African ancestry DNA sequence variants comprising the E-1 haplotype, was significantly associated with ESKD. In order to determine whether African ancestry variants are also associated with disease susceptibility in admixed populations with differing genomic backgrounds, we genotyped a total of 1425 African and Hispanic American subjects comprising dialysis patients with diabetic and non-diabetic ESKD and controls, using 42 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the MYH9 gene and 40 genome-wide and 38 chromosome 22 ancestry informative markers. Following ancestry correction, logistic regression demonstrated that three of the E-1 SNPs are also associated with non-diabetic ESKD in the new sample sets of both African and Hispanic Americans, with a stronger association in Hispanic Americans. We also identified MYH9 SNPs that are even more powerfully associated with the disease phenotype than the E-1 SNPs. These newly associated SNPs, could be divided into those comprising a haplotype termed S-1 whose association was significant under a recessive or additive inheritance mode (rs5750248, OR 4.21, P < 0.01, Hispanic Americans, recessive), and those comprising a haplotype termed F-1 whose association was significant under a dominant or additive inheritance mode (rs11912763, OR 4.59, P < 0.01, Hispanic Americans, dominant). These findings strengthen the contention that a sequence variant of MYH9, common in populations with varying degrees of African ancestry admixture, and in strong linkage disequilibrium with the associated SNPs and haplotypes reported herein, strongly predisposes to non-diabetic ESKD.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddq040
PMCID: PMC2850615  PMID: 20144966
14.  Extended Y chromosome haplotypes resolve multiple and unique lineages of the Jewish priesthood 
Human Genetics  2009;126(5):707-717.
It has been known for over a decade that a majority of men who self report as members of the Jewish priesthood (Cohanim) carry a characteristic Y chromosome haplotype termed the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH). The CMH has since been used to trace putative Jewish ancestral origins of various populations. However, the limited number of binary and STR Y chromosome markers used previously did not provide the phylogenetic resolution needed to infer the number of independent paternal lineages that are encompassed within the Cohanim or their coalescence times. Accordingly, we have genotyped 75 binary markers and 12 Y-STRs in a sample of 215 Cohanim from diverse Jewish communities, 1,575 Jewish men from across the range of the Jewish Diaspora, and 2,099 non-Jewish men from the Near East, Europe, Central Asia, and India. While Cohanim from diverse backgrounds carry a total of 21 Y chromosome haplogroups, 5 haplogroups account for 79.5% of Cohanim Y chromosomes. The most frequent Cohanim lineage (46.1%) is marked by the recently reported P58 T->C mutation, which is prevalent in the Near East. Based on genotypes at 12 Y-STRs, we identify an extended CMH on the J-P58* background that predominates in both Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Cohanim and is remarkably absent in non-Jews. The estimated divergence time of this lineage based on 17 STRs is 3,190 ± 1,090 years. Notably, the second most frequent Cohanim lineage (J-M410*, 14.4%) contains an extended modal haplotype that is also limited to Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Cohanim and is estimated to be 4.2 ± 1.3 ky old. These results support the hypothesis of a common origin of the CMH in the Near East well before the dispersion of the Jewish people into separate communities, and indicate that the majority of contemporary Jewish priests descend from a limited number of paternal lineages.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00439-009-0727-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00439-009-0727-5
PMCID: PMC2771134  PMID: 19669163
15.  The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula 
Most studies of European genetic diversity have focused on large-scale variation and interpretations based on events in prehistory, but migrations and invasions in historical times could also have had profound effects on the genetic landscape. The Iberian Peninsula provides a suitable region for examination of the demographic impact of such recent events, because its complex recent history has involved the long-term residence of two very different populations with distinct geographical origins and their own particular cultural and religious characteristics—North African Muslims and Sephardic Jews. To address this issue, we analyzed Y chromosome haplotypes, which provide the necessary phylogeographic resolution, in 1140 males from the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands. Admixture analysis based on binary and Y-STR haplotypes indicates a high mean proportion of ancestry from North African (10.6%) and Sephardic Jewish (19.8%) sources. Despite alternative possible sources for lineages ascribed a Sephardic Jewish origin, these proportions attest to a high level of religious conversion (whether voluntary or enforced), driven by historical episodes of social and religious intolerance, that ultimately led to the integration of descendants. In agreement with the historical record, analysis of haplotype sharing and diversity within specific haplogroups suggests that the Sephardic Jewish component is the more ancient. The geographical distribution of North African ancestry in the peninsula does not reflect the initial colonization and subsequent withdrawal and is likely to result from later enforced population movement—more marked in some regions than in others—plus the effects of genetic drift.
doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.11.007
PMCID: PMC2668061  PMID: 19061982
16.  The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula 
Most studies of European genetic diversity have focused on large-scale variation and interpretations based on events in prehistory, but migrations and invasions in historical times could also have had profound effects on the genetic landscape. The Iberian Peninsula provides a suitable region for examination of the demographic impact of such recent events, because its complex recent history has involved the long-term residence of two very different populations with distinct geographical origins and their own particular cultural and religious characteristics—North African Muslims and Sephardic Jews. To address this issue, we analyzed Y chromosome haplotypes, which provide the necessary phylogeographic resolution, in 1140 males from the Iberian Peninsula and Balearic Islands. Admixture analysis based on binary and Y-STR haplotypes indicates a high mean proportion of ancestry from North African (10.6%) and Sephardic Jewish (19.8%) sources. Despite alternative possible sources for lineages ascribed a Sephardic Jewish origin, these proportions attest to a high level of religious conversion (whether voluntary or enforced), driven by historical episodes of social and religious intolerance, that ultimately led to the integration of descendants. In agreement with the historical record, analysis of haplotype sharing and diversity within specific haplogroups suggests that the Sephardic Jewish component is the more ancient. The geographical distribution of North African ancestry in the peninsula does not reflect the initial colonization and subsequent withdrawal and is likely to result from later enforced population movement—more marked in some regions than in others—plus the effects of genetic drift.
doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.11.007
PMCID: PMC2668061  PMID: 19061982
17.  The Druze: A Population Genetic Refugium of the Near East 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(5):e2105.
Background
Phylogenetic mitochondrial DNA haplogroups are highly partitioned across global geographic regions. A unique exception is the X haplogroup, which has a widespread global distribution without major regions of distinct localization.
Principal Findings
We have examined mitochondrial DNA sequence variation together with Y-chromosome-based haplogroup structure among the Druze, a religious minority with a unique socio-demographic history residing in the Near East. We observed a striking overall pattern of heterogeneous parental origins, consistent with Druze oral tradition, together with both a high frequency and a high diversity of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) X haplogroup within a confined regional subpopulation. Furthermore demographic modeling indicated low migration rates with nearby populations.
Conclusions
These findings were enabled through the use of a paternal kindred based sampling approach, and suggest that the Galilee Druze represent a population isolate, and that the combination of a high frequency and diversity of the mtDNA X haplogroup signifies a phylogenetic refugium, providing a sample snapshot of the genetic landscape of the Near East prior to the modern age.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002105
PMCID: PMC2324201  PMID: 18461126
18.  Counting the Founders: The Matrilineal Genetic Ancestry of the Jewish Diaspora 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(4):e2062.
The history of the Jewish Diaspora dates back to the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests in the Levant, followed by complex demographic and migratory trajectories over the ensuing millennia which pose a serious challenge to unraveling population genetic patterns. Here we ask whether phylogenetic analysis, based on highly resolved mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) phylogenies can discern among maternal ancestries of the Diaspora. Accordingly, 1,142 samples from 14 different non-Ashkenazi Jewish communities were analyzed. A list of complete mtDNA sequences was established for all variants present at high frequency in the communities studied, along with high-resolution genotyping of all samples. Unlike the previously reported pattern observed among Ashkenazi Jews, the numerically major portion of the non-Ashkenazi Jews, currently estimated at 5 million people and comprised of the Moroccan, Iraqi, Iranian and Iberian Exile Jewish communities showed no evidence for a narrow founder effect, which did however characterize the smaller and more remote Belmonte, Indian and the two Caucasus communities. The Indian and Ethiopian Jewish sample sets suggested local female introgression, while mtDNAs in all other communities studied belong to a well-characterized West Eurasian pool of maternal lineages. Absence of sub-Saharan African mtDNA lineages among the North African Jewish communities suggests negligible or low level of admixture with females of the host populations among whom the African haplogroup (Hg) L0-L3 sub-clades variants are common. In contrast, the North African and Iberian Exile Jewish communities show influence of putative Iberian admixture as documented by mtDNA Hg HV0 variants. These findings highlight striking differences in the demographic history of the widespread Jewish Diaspora.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002062
PMCID: PMC2323359  PMID: 18446216
19.  The Genographic Project Public Participation Mitochondrial DNA Database 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(6):e104.
The Genographic Project is studying the genetic signatures of ancient human migrations and creating an open-source research database. It allows members of the public to participate in a real-time anthropological genetics study by submitting personal samples for analysis and donating the genetic results to the database. We report our experience from the first 18 months of public participation in the Genographic Project, during which we have created the largest standardized human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) database ever collected, comprising 78,590 genotypes. Here, we detail our genotyping and quality assurance protocols including direct sequencing of the mtDNA HVS-I, genotyping of 22 coding-region SNPs, and a series of computational quality checks based on phylogenetic principles. This database is very informative with respect to mtDNA phylogeny and mutational dynamics, and its size allows us to develop a nearest neighbor–based methodology for mtDNA haplogroup prediction based on HVS-I motifs that is superior to classic rule-based approaches. We make available to the scientific community and general public two new resources: a periodically updated database comprising all data donated by participants, and the nearest neighbor haplogroup prediction tool.
Author Summary
The Genographic Project was launched in 2005 to address anthropological questions on a global scale using genetics as a tool. Samples are collected in two ways. First, the project comprises a consortium of ten scientific teams from around the world united by a core ethical and scientific framework that is responsible for sample collection and analysis in their respective region. Second, the project promotes public participation in countries around the world and anyone can participate by purchasing a participation kit (Video S1). The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), typed in female participants, is inherited from the mother without recombining, being particularly informative with respect to maternal ancestry. Over the first 18 months of public participation in the project we have built up the largest to date database of mtDNA variants, containing 78,590 entries from around the world. Here, we describe the procedures used to generate, manage, and analyze the genetic data, and the first insights from them. We can understand new aspects of the structure of the mtDNA tree and develop much better ways of classifying mtDNA. We therefore now release this dataset and the new methods we have developed, and will continue to update them as more people join the Genographic Project.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0030104
PMCID: PMC1904368  PMID: 17604454
21.  Most of the extant mtDNA boundaries in South and Southwest Asia were likely shaped during the initial settlement of Eurasia by anatomically modern humans 
BMC Genetics  2004;5:26.
Background
Recent advances in the understanding of the maternal and paternal heritage of south and southwest Asian populations have highlighted their role in the colonization of Eurasia by anatomically modern humans. Further understanding requires a deeper insight into the topology of the branches of the Indian mtDNA phylogenetic tree, which should be contextualized within the phylogeography of the neighboring regional mtDNA variation. Accordingly, we have analyzed mtDNA control and coding region variation in 796 Indian (including both tribal and caste populations from different parts of India) and 436 Iranian mtDNAs. The results were integrated and analyzed together with published data from South, Southeast Asia and West Eurasia.
Results
Four new Indian-specific haplogroup M sub-clades were defined. These, in combination with two previously described haplogroups, encompass approximately one third of the haplogroup M mtDNAs in India. Their phylogeography and spread among different linguistic phyla and social strata was investigated in detail. Furthermore, the analysis of the Iranian mtDNA pool revealed patterns of limited reciprocal gene flow between Iran and the Indian sub-continent and allowed the identification of different assemblies of shared mtDNA sub-clades.
Conclusions
Since the initial peopling of South and West Asia by anatomically modern humans, when this region may well have provided the initial settlers who colonized much of the rest of Eurasia, the gene flow in and out of India of the maternally transmitted mtDNA has been surprisingly limited. Specifically, our analysis of the mtDNA haplogroups, which are shared between Indian and Iranian populations and exhibit coalescence ages corresponding to around the early Upper Paleolithic, indicates that they are present in India largely as Indian-specific sub-lineages. In contrast, other ancient Indian-specific variants of M and R are very rare outside the sub-continent.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-5-26
PMCID: PMC516768  PMID: 15339343
22.  Molecular Epidemiological Analysis of the Changing Nature of a Meningococcal Outbreak following a Vaccination Campaign 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2002;40(10):3565-3571.
A serogroup C meningococcal outbreak that occurred in an Israeli Arab village led to a massive vaccination campaign. During the subsequent 18 months, new cases of type B Neisseria meningitidis infection were revealed. To investigate the influence of vaccination on bacteriological epidemiology, bacteria were isolated from individuals at the outbreak location, patients with several additional other sporadic cases, and patients involoved in another outbreak. Haploid bacterial genomic DNA was mixed with a consensus PCR product to form a heteroduplex state that enabled multilocus sequence typing (MLST) to be combined with denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography (DHPLC) for a novel high-throughput molecular typing method called MLST-DHPLC. A 100% correlation was found to exist between the sequencing by MLST alone and the MLST-DHPLC method. Independent molecular typing by repetitive extragenic palindromic PCR discriminated the neisserial clones as well as the MLST-DHPLC method did. The occurrence of type B N. meningitidis in the postvaccination period might be attributed to the selection pressure applied to the bacteria by vaccination, suggesting a possible unwarranted outcome of vaccination with the quadrivalent vaccine for control of a serogroup C meningococcal outbreak. This is the first time that DHPLC has been applied to the genotyping of bacteria, and it proved to be more efficient than MLST alone.
doi:10.1128/JCM.40.10.3565-3571.2002
PMCID: PMC130885  PMID: 12354847
23.  Phylogenetic applications of whole Y-chromosome sequences and the Near Eastern origin of Ashkenazi Levites 
Nature Communications  2013;4:2928.
Previous Y-chromosome studies have demonstrated that Ashkenazi Levites, members of a paternally inherited Jewish priestly caste, display a distinctive founder event within R1a, the most prevalent Y-chromosome haplogroup in Eastern Europe. Here we report the analysis of 16 whole R1 sequences and show that a set of 19 unique nucleotide substitutions defines the Ashkenazi R1a lineage. While our survey of one of these, M582, in 2,834 R1a samples reveals its absence in 922 Eastern Europeans, we show it is present in all sampled R1a Ashkenazi Levites, as well as in 33.8% of other R1a Ashkenazi Jewish males and 5.9% of 303 R1a Near Eastern males, where it shows considerably higher diversity. Moreover, the M582 lineage also occurs at low frequencies in non-Ashkenazi Jewish populations. In contrast to the previously suggested Eastern European origin for Ashkenazi Levites, the current data are indicative of a geographic source of the Levite founder lineage in the Near East and its likely presence among pre-Diaspora Hebrews.
Population genetics studies continue to debate whether Ashkenazi Levites originated in Europe or the Near East. Here, Rootsi et al. use whole Y-chromosome DNA sequences to unravel the phylogenetic origin of the Ashkenazi Levite and suggest an origin for the Levite founder lineage in the Near East.
doi:10.1038/ncomms3928
PMCID: PMC3905698  PMID: 24346185

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