Journal of Applied Genetics 43(2),2002

Journal of Applied Genetics 43(2),2002, pp. 255 - 260
Variability of the human mitochondrial DNA control region sequences in the Lithuanian population

Abstract: 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 Since the Neolithic period the native inhabitants of the present-day Lithuanian territory have not been replaced by any other ethnic group.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 (Aukštaičiai and Žemaičiai) 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 Aukštaičiai and Žemaičiai subgroups were found, but some slight differences need further investigation.