Differentiation of Mitochondrial DNA and Y Chromosomes in Russian Populations

The genetic composition of the Russian population was investigated by analyzing both mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome loci polymorphisms that allow for the different components of a population gene pool to be studied, depending on the mode of DNA marker inheritance. mtDNA sequence variation was examined by using hypervariable segment I (HVSI) sequencing and restriction analysis of the haplogroup-specific sites in 325 individuals representing 5 Russian populations from the European part of Russia. The Y-chromosome variation was investigated in 338 individuals from 8 Russian populations (including 5 populations analyzed for mtDNA variation) using 12 binary markers. For both uniparental systems most of the observed haplogroups fell into major West Eurasian haplogroups (97.9% and 99.7% for mtDNA and Y-chromosome haplogroups, respectively). Multidimensional scaling analysis based on pairwise FST values between mtDNA HVSI sequences in Russians compared to other European populations revealed a considerable heterogeneity of Russian populations; populations from the southern and western parts of Russia are separated from eastern and northern populations. Meanwhile, the multidimensional scaling analysis based on Y-chromosome haplogroup FST values demonstrates that the Russian gene pool is close to central-eastern European populations, with a much higher similarity to the Baltic and Finno-Ugric male pools from northern European Russia. This discrepancy in the depth of penetration of mtDNA and Y-chromosome lineages characteristic for the most southwestern Russian populations into the east and north of eastern Europe appears to indicate that Russian colonization of the northeastern territories might have been accomplished mainly by males rather than by females.