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Geneticists find Jewish roots in Colorado Indians

Published time: May 31, 2012 04:10
Edited time: May 31, 2012 08:11
Geneticists find Jewish roots in Colorado Indians (Reuters/Rick Wilking)

Geneticists find Jewish roots in Colorado Indians (Reuters/Rick Wilking)

A population of native American Indians from the US state of Colorado has been found to have a genetic mutation typical of Ashkenazi Jews. The finding suggests the presence of common roots that date back to the days of Christopher Columbus.

­The so-called “Ashkenazi mutation” is a deleterious modification in BRCA1 gene which increases risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Researchers from the Sheba Medical Center in Israel have found it in the DNA of descendants of those Indians who moved from Mexico to Colorado some 200 years ago.

The same very mutation was earlier tracked in Hispanic Americans whose ancestors also arrived in the United States from Mexico and South America.

Computer analysis of genetic data has revealed that the two groups should have a common ancestor – a Jewish person who moved from Europe to the New World as long as 600 years ago. It was the time when Christopher Columbus discovered America, and the Jewish population was expelled from Spain.

In their publication in the European Journal of Human Genetics, the team, led by Eitan Friedman, notes that Colorado’s Mexican Indians do not seem to have any traditions that would link them to Jews.

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