Yael Baran

Tel Aviv University, Tell Afif, Tel Aviv, Israel

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Publications (5)61.66 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The origin and history of the Ashkenazi Jewish population have long been of great interest, and advances in high-throughput genetic analysis have recently provided a new approach for investigating these topics. We and others have argued on the basis of genome-wide data that the Ashkenazi Jewish population derives its ancestry from a combination of sources tracing to both Europe and the Middle East. It has been claimed, however, through a reanalysis of some of our data, that a large part of the ancestry of the Ashkenazi population originates with the Khazars, a Turkic-speaking group that lived to the north of the Caucasus region ~1,000 years ago. Because the Khazar population has left no obvious modern descendants that could enable a clear test for a contribution to Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, the Khazar hypothesis has been difficult to examine using genetics. Furthermore, because only limited genetic data have been available from the Caucasus region, and because these data have been concentrated in populations that are genetically close to populations from the Middle East, the attribution of any signal of Ashkenazi-Caucasus genetic similarity to Khazar ancestry rather than shared ancestral Middle Eastern ancestry has been problematic. Here, through integration of genotypes from newly collected samples with data from several of our past studies, we have assembled the largest data set available to date for assessment of Ashkenazi Jewish genetic origins. This data set contains genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphisms in 1,774 samples from 106 Jewish and non-Jewish populations that span the possible regions of potential Ashkenazi ancestry: Europe, the Middle East, and the region historically associated with the Khazar Khaganate. The data set includes 261 samples from 15 populations from the Caucasus region and the region directly to its north, samples that have not previously been included alongside Ashkenazi Jewish samples in genomic studies. Employing a variety of standard techniques for the analysis of population-genetic structure, we found that Ashkenazi Jews share the greatest genetic ancestry with other Jewish populations and, among non-Jewish populations, with groups from Europe and the Middle East. No particular similarity of Ashkenazi Jews to populations from the Caucasus is evident, particularly populations that most closely represent the Khazar region. Thus, analysis of Ashkenazi Jews together with a large sample from the region of the Khazar Khaganate corroborates the earlier results that Ashkenazi Jews derive their ancestry primarily from populations of the Middle East and Europe, that they possess considerable shared ancestry with other Jewish populations, and that there is no indication of a significant genetic contribution either from within or from north of the Caucasus region.
    Human Biology 12/2013; 85(6):859-900. · 1.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Characterizing the spatial patterns of genetic diversity in human populations has a wide range of applications, from detecting genetic mutations associated with disease to inferring human history. Current approaches, including the widely used principal-component analysis, are not suited for the analysis of linked markers, and local and long-range linkage disequilibrium (LD) can dramatically reduce the accuracy of spatial localization when unaccounted for. To overcome this, we have introduced an approach that performs spatial localization of individuals on the basis of their genetic data and explicitly models LD among markers by using a multivariate normal distribution. By leveraging external reference panels, we derive closed-form solutions to the optimization procedure to achieve a computationally efficient method that can handle large data sets. We validate the method on empirical data from a large sample of European individuals from the POPRES data set, as well as on a large sample of individuals of Spanish ancestry. First, we show that by modeling LD, we achieve accuracy superior to that of existing methods. Importantly, whereas other methods show decreased performance when dense marker panels are used in the inference, our approach improves in accuracy as more markers become available. Second, we show that accurate localization of genetic data can be achieved with only a part of the genome, and this could potentially enable the spatial localization of admixed samples that have a fraction of their genome originating from a given continent. Finally, we demonstrate that our approach is resistant to distortions resulting from long-range LD regions; such distortions can dramatically bias the results when unaccounted for.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 05/2013; · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: MOTIVATION: It is becoming increasingly evident that the analysis of genotype data from recently admixed populations is providing important insights into medical genetics and population history. Such analyses have been used to identify novel disease loci, to understand recombination rate variation and to detect recent selection events. The utility of such studies crucially depends on accurate and unbiased estimation of the ancestry at every genomic locus in recently admixed populations. Although various methods have been proposed and shown to be extremely accurate in two-way admixtures (e.g. African Americans), only a few approaches have been proposed and thoroughly benchmarked on multi-way admixtures (e.g. Latino populations of the Americas). RESULTS: To address these challenges we introduce here methods for local ancestry inference which leverage the structure of linkage disequilibrium in the ancestral population (LAMP-LD), and incorporate the constraint of Mendelian segregation when inferring local ancestry in nuclear family trios (LAMP-HAP). Our algorithms uniquely combine hidden Markov models (HMMs) of haplotype diversity within a novel window-based framework to achieve superior accuracy as compared with published methods. Further, unlike previous methods, the structure of our HMM does not depend on the number of reference haplotypes but on a fixed constant, and it is thereby capable of utilizing large datasets while remaining highly efficient and robust to over-fitting. Through simulations and analysis of real data from 489 nuclear trio families from the mainland US, Puerto Rico and Mexico, we demonstrate that our methods achieve superior accuracy compared with published methods for local ancestry inference in Latinos.
    Bioinformatics 04/2012; 28(10):1359-67. · 5.47 Impact Factor
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    Yael Baran, Eran Halperin
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    ABSTRACT: The availability of metagenomic sequencing data, generated by sequencing DNA pooled from multiple microbes living jointly, has increased sharply in the last few years with developments in sequencing technology. Characterizing the contents of metagenomic samples is a challenging task, which has been extensively attempted by both supervised and unsupervised techniques, each with its own limitations. Common to practically all the methods is the processing of single samples only; when multiple samples are sequenced, each is analyzed separately and the results are combined. In this paper we propose to perform a combined analysis of a set of samples in order to obtain a better characterization of each of the samples, and provide two applications of this principle. First, we use an unsupervised probabilistic mixture model to infer hidden components shared across metagenomic samples. We incorporate the model in a novel framework for studying association of microbial sequence elements with phenotypes, analogous to the genome-wide association studies performed on human genomes: We demonstrate that stratification may result in false discoveries of such associations, and that the components inferred by the model can be used to correct for this stratification. Second, we propose a novel read clustering (also termed "binning") algorithm which operates on multiple samples simultaneously, leveraging on the assumption that the different samples contain the same microbial species, possibly in different proportions. We show that integrating information across multiple samples yields more precise binning on each of the samples. Moreover, for both applications we demonstrate that given a fixed depth of coverage, the average per-sample performance generally increases with the number of sequenced samples as long as the per-sample coverage is high enough.
    PLoS Computational Biology 02/2012; 8(2):e1002373. · 4.87 Impact Factor
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    Nature 01/2012; 491(7422):56-65. · 38.60 Impact Factor