Aksay Kazakhs are the easternmost branch of Kazakhs, residing in Jiuquan city, the forefront of the ancient Silk Road. However, the genetic diversity of Aksay Kazakhs and its relationships with other Kazakhs still lack attention. To clarify this issue, we analyzed the non-recombining portion of the Y-chromosome from 93 Aksay Kazakhs samples, using a high-resolution analysis of 106 biallelic markers and 17 STRs. The lowest haplogroup diversity (0.38) was observed in Aksay Kazakhs among all studied Kazakh populations. The social and cultural traditions of the Kazakhs shaped their current pattern of genetic variation. Aksay Kazakhs tended to migrate with clans and had limited paternal admixture with neighboring populations. Aksay Kazakhs had the highest frequency (80%) of haplogroup C2b1a3a1-F3796 (previous C3*-Star Cluster) among the investigated Eurasian steppe populations, which was now seen as the genetic marker of Kerei clan. Furthermore, NETWORK analysis indicated that Aksay Kazakhs originated from sub-clan Kerei-Abakh in Kazakhstan with DYS448 = 23. TMRCA estimates of three recent descent clusters detected in C2*-M217 (xM48) network, one of which incorporate nearly all of the C2b1a3a1-F3796 Aksay Kazakhs samples, gave the age range of 976-1405 YA for DC1, 1059-1314 YA for DC2, and 1139-1317 YA for DC3, respectively; this is coherent with the 7th to the 11th centuries Altaic-speaking pastoral nomadic population expansion.
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We are grateful for the trust of the sample donors. This work was supported by National Social Science Foundation of China (19VJX074), Scientific and Technology Committee of Shanghai Municipality (18490750300), National Natural Science Foundation of China (91731303, 81671874, 31760309, 31771325, 91631105, and 31801040), Innovation Team Project of Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (31920190030), and 111 Project (B13016).
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Wen, SQ., Sun, C., Song, DL. et al. Y-chromosome evidence confirmed the Kerei-Abakh origin of Aksay Kazakhs. J Hum Genet 65, 797–803 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s10038-020-0759-1