1022-7954/03/3912- $25.00 © 2003
Russian Journal of Genetics, Vol. 39, No. 12, 2003, pp. 1453–1460. Translated from Genetika, Vol. 39, No. 12, 2003, pp. 1710–1718.
Original Russian Text Copyright © 2003 by Volodko, Derbeneva, Uinuk-ool, Sukernik.
The Commander Islands and Aleutian archipelago
represent a single geographical unit comprised of more
than 100 islands stretching in a chain along the oceanic
arc from Alaska in the east to Kamchatka in the west.
The whole chain is split into several isolated groups of
islands, including Fox Islands, Andreyanov Islands, Rat
Islands, Near Islands, and the Commanders (Fig. 1).
The Commander Islands and Alaska were discovered
by the Bering–Chirikov expedition in 1741; by that
time this Bering Sea region was characterized by luxu-
riant biological resources, which provided the existence
of a large Aleut population comprised of sea-hunters,
ﬁshermen, and gatherers . The whole population
numbering, according to different estimates, from
12 000 to 15 000 individuals, was subdivided into sev-
eral territorial groups, speaking two different dialects
of the Aleut language [2–4]. Resident population was
observed on all relatively large Aleutian Islands, while
the Commanders were peopled only by 1826. The pop-
ulation was comprised of the Aleuts and Creoles (off-
Genetic History of Aleuts of the Commander Islands as Revealed
by the Analysis of the HLA Class II Gene Variability
N. V. Volodko
, O. A. Derbeneva
, T. S. Uinuk-ool
, and R. I. Sukernik
Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, 630090 Russia;
fax: (3832)33-12-78; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Max-Plank-Institut fuer Biologie, Tubingen, D-72076 Germany; fax: (+49)7071-600-437
Received June 24, 2003
—Variability of the HLA class II genes (alleles of the DRB1, DQA1, and DQB1 loci) was investigated
in a sample of Aleuts of the Commanders (
= 31), whose ancestors inhabited the Commander Islands for many
thousand years. Among 19 haplotypes revealed in the Aleuts of the Commanders, at most eight were inherited
from the native inhabitants of the Commander Islands. Five of these haplotypes (DRB1*0401-DQA1*0301-
DQB1*0301, DRB1*1401-DQA1*0101-DQB1*0503, DRB1*0802-DQA1*0401-DQB1*0402, DRB1*1101-
DQA1*0501-DQB1*0301, and DRB1*1201-DQA1*0501-DQB1*0301) were typical of Beringian Mongol-
oids, i.e., Coastal Chukchi and Koryaks, as well as Siberian and Alaskan Eskimos. Genetic contribution of the
immigrants to the genetic pool of the proper Aleuts constituted about 52%. Phylogenetic analysis based on
Transberingian distribution of the DRB1 allele frequencies favored the hypothesis on the common origin of the
Paleo-Aleuts, Paleo-Eskimos, and the Indians from the northwestern North America, whose direct ancestors
survived in Beringian/southwestern Alaskan coastal refugia during the late Ice Age.
Position of the Commander and Aleutian Islands at the border between the Bering Sea and the Paciﬁc Ocean.