Tracking the genetic imprints of lost Jewish tribes among the gene pool of Kuki-Chin-Mizo population of India
© BioMed Central Ltd 2004
Received: 18 November 2004
Published: 2 December 2004
The Kuki-Chin-Mizo population comprising traditionally endogamous tribal groups residing in the state of Mizoram, India claim their descent from the ten lost tribes of Israel that were exiled by the Assyrians. To ascertain their oral history, we analysed DNA markers comprising 15 autosomal microsatellite markers, 5 biallelic and 20 microsatellite markers on Y-chromosome and the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA sequence variations on 414 individuals belonging to 5 tribal communities from Mizoram (Hmar, Kuki, Mara, Lai and Lusei). The genetic profiles obtained were compared either with populations sharing Jewish ancestry or with local populations along the probable route of migration of the Jewish ancestry claimant Mizoram tribes.
Y-STR analyses showed absence of the Cohen Modal Haplotype, the genetic signature of Cohanim origin. Y-chromosomal biallelic marker analyses revealed the presence of East and Southeast Asian-specific lineages and absence of haplogroup J predominant among Jewish populations. The mitochondrial DNA sequence analyses however revealed traces of genetic relatedness between the Jewish ancestry claimant Mizoram tribes and Near Eastern lineages. Autosomal analyses showed moderate degree of genetic differentiation among the different Mizoram tribes.
Migration of the lost tribes through China resulting in subsequent genetic admixture over a long period of time has probably diluted the extant gene pool of the Kuki-Chin-Mizo population. Although their paternal lineages do not exhibit any trace of Jewish ancestry, incidence of maternal Near Eastern lineages among the Mizoram tribals suggests their claim to Jewish ancestry cannot be excluded.