MS205 minisatellite diversity in Basques: evidence for a pre-Neolithic component.

Alonso S, Armour JA.

Division of Genetics, Queen's Medical Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK. pdzsaa@granby.nott.ac.uk

A number of studies have suggested that Basques might be a relic of Mesolithic Europeans who escaped much of the homogenization brought about by the Neolithic expansion. In an attempt to add new insights into this hypothesis, MS205 minisatellite diversity has been investigated by Minisatellite Variant Repeat (MVR) analysis in a sample of >100 autochthonous individuals from the Basque Country, along with 24 Castilian (N. Spain) and 23 individuals from the United Kingdom. These populations were examined in the context of the available world database for MS205 alleles. To deduce the similarities among populations, we have applied a phylogenetic approach that takes into account similarity between alleles. The variability of these populations seems to be a subset of the greater and presumably older African diversity, as has been suggested previously for non-Africans. Within non-Africans, Basques seem to cluster with other Northern European populations; however, some apparently Basque-specific alleles can be dated back to post-Aurignacian times, supporting the continuity of some lineages of this population since the Upper Paleolithic period.