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Am J Hum Genet. 1999 Nov;65(5):1437-48.

Recent male-mediated gene flow over a linguistic barrier in Iberia, suggested by analysis of a Y-chromosomal DNA polymorphism.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, United Kingdom.


We have examined the worldwide distribution of a Y-chromosomal base-substitution polymorphism, the T/C transition at SRY-2627, where the T allele defines haplogroup 22; sequencing of primate homologues shows that the ancestral state cannot be determined unambiguously but is probably the C allele. Of 1,191 human Y chromosomes analyzed, 33 belong to haplogroup 22. Twenty-nine come from Iberia, and the highest frequencies are in Basques (11%; n=117) and Catalans (22%; n=32). Microsatellite and minisatellite (MSY1) diversity analysis shows that non-Iberian haplogroup-22 chromosomes are not significantly different from Iberian ones. The simplest interpretation of these data is that haplogroup 22 arose in Iberia and that non-Iberian cases reflect Iberian emigrants. Several different methods were used to date the origin of the polymorphism: microsatellite data gave ages of 1,650, 2,700, 3,100, or 3,450 years, and MSY1 gave ages of 1,000, 2,300, or 2,650 years, although 95% confidence intervals on all of these figures are wide. The age of the split between Basque and Catalan haplogroup-22 chromosomes was calculated as only 20% of the age of the lineage as a whole. This study thus provides evidence for direct or indirect gene flow over the substantial linguistic barrier between the Indo-European and non-Indo-European-speaking populations of the Catalans and the Basques, during the past few thousand years.

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