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J Appl Genet. 2002;43(2):255-60.

Variability of the human mitochondrial DNA control region sequences in the Lithuanian population.

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  • 1Human Genetics Centre, Vilnius University, Lithuania.


The Lithuanians and Latvians are the only two Baltic cultures that survived until today. Since the Neolithic period the native inhabitants of the present-day Lithuanian territory have not been replaced by any other ethnic group. Therefore the genetic characterization of the present-day Lithuanians may shed some light on the early history of the Balts. We have analysed 120 DNA samples from two Lithuanian ethnolinguistic groups (Aukstaiciai and Zemaiciai) by direct sequencing of the first hypervariable segment (HVI) of the control region of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and restriction enzyme digestion for polymorphic site 00073. On the basis of specific nucleotide substitutions the obtained sequences were classified to mtDNA haplogroups. This revealed the presence of almost all European haplogroups (except X) in the Lithuanian sample, including those that expanded through Europe in the Palaeolithic and those whose expansion occurred during the Neolithic. Molecular diversity indices (gene diversity 0.97, nucleotide diversity 0.012 and mean number of pairwise differences 4.5) were within the range usually reported in European populations. No significant differences between Aukstaiciai and Zemaiciai subgroups were found, but some slight differences need further investigation.

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