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MtDNA Profile of West Africa Guineans

Annals of Human Genetics Volume 68 Issue 4 Page 340 - July 2004

MtDNA Profile of West Africa Guineans: Towards a Better Understanding of the Senegambia Region
Alexandra Rosa et al.
Summary
The matrilineal genetic composition of 372 samples from the Republic of Guiné-Bissau (West African coast) was studied using RFLPs and partial sequencing of the mtDNA control and coding region. The majority of the mtDNA lineages of Guineans (94%) belong to West African specific sub-clusters of L0-L3 haplogroups. A new L3 sub-cluster (L3h) that is found in both eastern and western Africa is present at moderately low frequencies in Guinean populations. A non-random distribution of haplogroups U5 in the Fula group, the U6 among the "Brame" linguistic family and M1 in the Balanta-Djola group, suggests a correlation between the genetic and linguistic affiliation of Guinean populations. The presence of M1 in Balanta populations supports the earlier suggestion of their Sudanese origin. Haplogroups U5 and U6, on the other hand, were found to be restricted to populations that are thought to represent the descendants of a southern expansion of Berbers. Particular haplotypes, found almost exclusively in East-African populations, were found in some ethnic groups with an oral tradition claiming Sudanese origin.
A possible ancient migration from Asia to Africa was proposed by Cruciani et al. (2002) to explain the presence of some unusual Y-chromosome lineages identified in West Africa. Haplogroup R1 (defined by M173 mutation), without further branch defining mutations (M269 and M17) specific to Europeans, accounted for ~40% of the Y-chromosomes in North-Cameroon, while not yet having been sampled elsewhere in Africa. More data from Central and Western Africa are needed to cast light on the origin of such idiosyncratic mtDNA and Y chromosome lineages. Thus, our U5 sequences from the Guinean Fulbe people corroborate Cruciani's hypothesis of a prehistoric migration from Eurasia to West Sub-Saharan Africa, testified by their present day restricted and localised distribution.

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