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Thread: HLA genes in the Chuvashian population from European Russia (abstract)

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    Exclamation HLA genes in the Chuvashian population from European Russia (abstract)

    Hum Biol. 2003 Jun;75(3):375-92.


    HLA genes in the Chuvashian population from European Russia: admixture of Central European and Mediterranean populations.

    Arnaiz-Villena A, Martinez-Laso J, Moscoso J, Livshits G, Zamora J, Gomez-Casado E, Silvera-Redondo C, Melvin K, Crawford MH.

    Department of Microbiology I-Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Complutense, 28040 Madrid. Spain.

    HLA alleles have been determined for the first time in individuals from the Chuvashian population by DNA typing and sequencing. HLA-A, -B, -DR, and -DQ allele frequencies and extended haplotypes have also been determined, and the results compared to those for Central Europeans, Siberians and other Asians, Caucasians, Middle Easterners, and Mediterranean peoples. Genetic distances, neighbor-joining dendrograms, and correspondence analysis have been performed. Present-day Chuvash speak an Altaic-Turkic language and are genetically related to Caucasians (Georgians), Mediterraneans, and Middle Easterners, and not only to Central or Northern Europeans; Chuvash contain little indications of Central Asian-Altaic gene flow. Thus, present-day Chuvash who speak an Altaic-Turkic language are probably more closely related to ancient Mesopotamian-Hittites and northern European populations than to central Asia-Altaic people.

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    HLA genes in the Chuvashian population from European Russia

    Hum Biol. 2003 Jun;75(3):375-92.


    HLA genes in the Chuvashian population from European Russia: admixture of Central European and Mediterranean populations.

    Arnaiz-Villena A, Martinez-Laso J, Moscoso J, Livshits G, Zamora J, Gomez-Casado E, Silvera-Redondo C, Melvin K, Crawford MH.

    Department of Microbiology I-Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Complutense, 28040 Madrid. Spain.

    HLA alleles have been determined for the first time in individuals from the Chuvashian population by DNA typing and sequencing. HLA-A, -B, -DR, and -DQ allele frequencies and extended haplotypes have also been determined, and the results compared to those for Central Europeans, Siberians and other Asians, Caucasians, Middle Easterners, and Mediterranean peoples. Genetic distances, neighbor-joining dendrograms, and correspondence analysis have been performed. Present-day Chuvash speak an Altaic-Turkic language and are genetically related to Caucasians (Georgians), Mediterraneans, and Middle Easterners, and not only to Central or Northern Europeans; Chuvash contain little indications of Central Asian-Altaic gene flow. Thus, present-day Chuvash who speak an Altaic-Turkic language are probably more closely related to ancient Mesopotamian-Hittites and northern European populations than to central Asia-Altaic people.

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    Re: HLA genes in the Chuvashian population from European Russia

    This would be interesting; however, anything authored by Arnaiz-Villena unfortunately lacks credibility. Here is an assessment by Cavalli-Sforza and others of the merits of Arnaiz-Villena’s ‘scholarship’ (made in conjunction with a different paper also investigating HLA allele frequencies and later withdrawn by the publisher):

    The stated purpose of the paper by Antonio Arnaiz-Villena et al. was to "examine the genetic relationships between the Palestinians and their neighbours (particularly the Jews) in order to: (1) discover the Palestinian origins, and (2) explain the historic basis of the present ... conflict between Palestinians and other Muslim countries with Israelite Jews".

    They conclude: "Jews and Palestinians share a very similar HLA genetic pool that supports a common ancient Canaanite origin. Therefore, the origin of the long-lasting Jewish–Palestinian hostility is the fight for land in ancient times."

    It is difficult to believe that knowledge of genes may help to explain the present conflict. Although population genetics can address issues of relatedness of populations, mating patterns, migrations and so on, obviously it cannot provide evidence about reasons for conflicts between people.

    Our primary concern, however, is that the authors might be perceived to have been discriminated against for political, as opposed to legitimate scientific, reasons.

    Even a cursory look at the paper's diagrams and trees immediately indicates that the authors make some extraordinary claims. They used a single genetic marker, HLA DRB1, for their analysis to construct a genealogical tree and map of 28 populations from Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Japan. Using results from the analysis of a single marker, particularly one likely to have undergone selection, for the purpose of reconstructing genealogies is unreliable and unacceptable practice in population genetics.

    The limitations are made evident by the authors' extraordinary observations that Greeks are very similar to Ethiopians and east Africans but very distant from other south Europeans; and that the Japanese are nearly identical to west and south Africans. It is surprising that the authors were not puzzled by these anomalous results, which contradict history, geography, anthropology and all prior population-genetic studies of these groups. Surely the ordinary process of refereeing would have saved the field from this dispute.

    We believe that the paper should have been refused for publication on the simple grounds that it lacked scientific merit.

    Neil Risch
    Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA

    Alberto Piazza
    Department of Genetics, Biology and Biochemistry, University of Torino, Via Santena 19, 10126 Torino, Italy

    L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza
    Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA
    http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v415/n6868/full/415115b_fs.html


    Jobling also uses Arnaiz-Villena as a textbook example of how not to interpret results when conducting a scientific study. See Dienekes’ note:

    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2004/10/mark-jobling-on-hla-drb1.html

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