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Mol Biol Evol. 2017 Oct 1;34(10):2572-2582. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msx177.

Genetic History of Xinjiang's Uyghurs Suggests Bronze Age Multiple-Way Contacts in Eurasia.

Feng Q1,2, Lu Y1, Ni X3, Yuan K1,2, Yang Y4, Yang X1,2, Liu C1,2, Lou H1, Ning Z1,2, Wang Y1,2, Lu D1,2, Zhang C1,2, Zhou Y1,2, Shi M1,2, Tian L1,2, Wang X1,2,5, Zhang X1,2,5, Li J1, Khan A1, Guan Y6, Tang K1, Wang S1,7, Xu S1,2,5,7.

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Chinese Academy of Sciences Key Laboratory of Computational Biology, Max Planck Independent Research Group on Population Genomics, CAS-MPG Partner Institute for Computational Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS, Shanghai, China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Department of Mathematics School of Science, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing, China.
School of Life Sciences, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
School of Life Science and Technology, ShanghaiTech University, Shanghai, China.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Preclinical Medicine College Xinjiang Medical University, Urumqi, China.
Collaborative Innovation Center of Genetics and Development, Shanghai, China.


The Uyghur people residing in Xinjiang, a territory located in the far west of China and crossed by the Silk Road, are a key ethnic group for understanding the history of human dispersion in Eurasia. Here we assessed the genetic structure and ancestry of 951 Xinjiang's Uyghurs (XJU) representing 14 geographical subpopulations. We observed a southwest and northeast differentiation within XJU, which was likely shaped jointly by the Tianshan Mountains, which traverses from east to west as a natural barrier, and gene flow from both east and west directions. In XJU, we identified four major ancestral components that were potentially derived from two earlier admixed groups: one from the West, harboring European (25-37%) and South Asian ancestries (12-20%), and the other from the East, with Siberian (15-17%) and East Asian (29-47%) ancestries. By using a newly developed method, MultiWaver, the complex admixture history of XJU was modeled as a two-wave admixture. An ancient wave was dated back to ∼3,750 years ago (ya), which is much earlier than that estimated by previous studies, but fits within the range of dating of mummies that exhibited European features that were discovered in the Tarim basin, which is situated in southern Xinjiang (4,000-2,000 ya); a more recent wave occurred around 750 ya, which is in agreement with the estimate from a recent study using other methods. We unveiled a more complex scenario of ancestral origins and admixture history in XJU than previously reported, which further suggests Bronze Age massive migrations in Eurasia and East-West contacts across the Silk Road.


Eurasia; SNP; Uyghurs; Xinjiang; genetic admixture; population structure

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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