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A study of Gm allotypes and immunoglobulin heavy gamma IGHG genes in Berbers, Arabs and sub-Saharan Africans from Jerba Island, Tunisia

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The Gm polymorphism of human IgG immunoglobulins was investigated in three different ethnic groups — Arabs, Berbers and ‘dark-skinned people’— on Jerba Island, Tunisia. The genetic relationships among these groups and several populations from North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, west Asia and Europe were analysed by principal coordinate analysis, Fst significance testing, and analysis of molecular variance based on haplotype frequencies. The results revealed a non-significant genetic differentiation between Arabs and Berbers from Jerba. However, the Jerbian population of sub-Saharan African origin was close to Ethiopians. Gene flow among the three Jerbian populations, as well as an East African origin of the dark-skinned individuals, is proposed to account for the observed genetic pattern. However, the genetic diversity observed among the different Tunisian populations did not show any significant correlation with either geographic or linguistic differentiation. A preliminary analysis of the restriction fragment length polymorphism of the IGHG genes in Arabs and Berbers from Jerba confirmed the close genetic relationship between the two populations. However, it also indicated a lower level of genetic diversity in the Berbers, which may be explained by more rapid genetic drift due to longer isolation on the island.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 October 2001

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