2

The DNA Network

the_dna_network_logo1.jpg
The Genetic Genealogist has been invited to be a member of the new genetics blogging group The DNA Network, founded by Rick Vidal of My Biotech Life and Hsien Lei of Eye on DNA. The group is “a network (double helix?) composed of life science enthusiasts with specialized views in areas such as genetics, biology, biotechnology, health care, and much more.”

Not only is the network a great way to discover new blogs, but it is an opportunity to stay current on events and developments in the field of genetics. The following blogs are currently members of the network:

My Biotech Life
DNA Direct Talk
Epidemix
Epigenetics News
evolgen
Eye on DNA
Gene Sherpas: Personalized Medicine and You
Genomicron
henry: the human evolution news relay (genetics)
Mary Meets Dolly
Microarray and Bioinformatics
Omics! Omics!
ScienceRoll
And me, The Genetic Genealogist.

... Click to read more!

Famous DNA Review, Part I – Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States, has been at the center of a DNA controversy for over 200 years.In September 1802 journalist James T. Callender wrote in Richmond Reporter that Jefferson had for many years “kept, as his concubine, one of his slaves.Her name is Sally [Hemmings].The name of her eldest son is Tom.His features are said to bear a striking though sable resemblance to those of the president himself.”Although these rumors had reportedly already been passed around quietly, this article spread the rumor far and wide, setting off many years of debate.

In 1998 analysis of a male descendant of Jefferson’s paternal uncle showed that Jefferson’ Y chromosome belonged to haplogroup K2 (Thomas Jefferson did not have any male descendants to provide DNA.For more information, see: “Jefferson fathered slave’s last child.” 1998. Nature 396 (6706): 27–28. PMID 9817200).Haplogroup K2 is rather rare, constituting just 1% of worldwide Y chromosomes (See “Thomas Jefferson’s Y chromosome belongs to a rare European lineage.” Am J Phys Anthropol 132(4): 584-9.PMID 17274013 ).Surprisingly, or perhaps not-so-surprisingly depending on which side of the debate you stood, a male descendant of Sally named Easton Hemmings possessed the same K2 chromosome, suggesting a genetic link between Jefferson and Easton.Keep in mind, however, that this is not determinative since it is possible that any of Jefferson’s male relatives (who possessed the same Y chromosome) could have fathered Easton.And keeping in mind that non-paternal events are ALWAYS a possibility, nothing is 100% certain.Not until we can time-travel and obtain DNA samples from the source!

... Click to read more!

10

Are aboriginal Australians and New Guineans the modern-day descendants of the extinct species Homo erectus?

Some scientists have hypothesized that Australian aboriginals received a portion of their DNA from an ancient hominid species called Homo erectus, which for a short time was contemporaneous with modern man. A recent study published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences) set out to answer this question by analyzing mtDNA and Y-chromosome samples from aboriginals.

A total of 172 mtDNA and 522 Y-chromosome previously published and new sequences from aboriginal Australians and New Guineans were analyzed for mtDNA and Y-chromosome variation and were compared to the current world haplogroup tree. All of the mtDNA sequences were members of the M and N founder branches, and all of the Y-chromosome sequences fell into the C and F founder branches.

... Click to read more!

2

Can Scientists Have a Sense of Humor?

Scienceroll just posted a hilarious video called the “DNA-ting Game“, an advertisement for Caliper Life Sciences which is a spoof on 1970’s “The Dating Game.” If you think science humor is funny, you’ll love this video. I highly recommend you go check it out. For a little background information, they talking about analyzing DNA samples using gel electrophoresis. The video is actually an elaborate advertisement for an alternative to electorphoresis.

There are some other funny videos I’ve seen as well, including the great advertising campaign from Biocompare. There are three commercials – here, here, and here. They’re another example of biotechnology companies jumping into this field of advertising. In our lab we typically made decisions based on price, but who knows what effect appealing to our sense of humor might have?

... Click to read more!

1

Native American DNA in England

I was very surprised when genetic testing revealed that my maternal lineage was not European. I’m sure, however, that my surprise was nothing compared to that of two British women who recently discovered that their maternal lineage was of Native American descent (the original article is available through the BBC).

Doreen Isherwood and Anne Hall learned that their mtDNA belonged to Haplogroups A and C, traditional Native American Haplogroups. As the BBC story explains, Native Americans were brought back to England as early as the 1500s.

Said Ms. Hall: “I was thrilled to bits. It was a very pleasant surprise. To have Native American blood is very exotic.”

Thanks to The Genealogue.

4

Genetic Genealogy in Iceland

Yesterday Science published a report from deCODE genetics in Iceland and a second report from academic colleagues in the United States and Canada that announced the discovery of a gene variant (a SNP) on chromosome 9p21 that results in an increased risk of heart attack (the abstracts are available online here and here). The SNP was discovered through genome-wide SNP analysis in Iceland and replicated in three groups of European descent in the United States. I don’t have access to either paper, but according to deCODE’s press release the variant is estimated to account for 20% of the incidence of heart attacks in Europeans, including one-third of early-onset cases (men and women age 50 to 60). Both companies used SNP Chips (that’s fun to say outloud), tiny gene chips that contain thousands and thousands of SNPs across the entire genome. Want to learn more about SNPs? Go to the SNP information page at the Human Genome Project.

... Click to read more!

1

Podcast Interview with the CEO of AncestryByDNA

Update: The podcast was updated to add the last 5 minutes of the interview (after the commercial break).  As a result, the link to the podcast changed.  I apologize to everyone who tried the old link – it should work fine now.

Market News First, a website dedicated to microcap markets, recently interviewed the CEO of DNAPrint Genomics, Inc.”Richard Gabriel, President and CEO of DNAPrint Genomics, Inc. spoke with MN1.com’s Rich Hancock on April 26th, 2007 about the Company’s innovative and cutting edge technology that aids law enforcement crime scene investigation (CSI) forensics, consumer applications in genealogy ancestry/genetic testing and its pharmaceutical and diagnostic applications. Mr. Gabriel highlights the Company’s recent advances in its pharmaceutical and diagnostic, and talks about its successes in both law enforcement and the growth market of DNAPrint’s consumer oriented products.”

... Click to read more!

23

GINA: A Primer

dnaa.jpg1.Who is GINA?
GINA isn’t a ‘who’, it’s a ‘what’.GINA stands for Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.

2.Okay, what is the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act?
GINA aims to protect individuals in a variety of different areas.The legislation would prohibit access to genetic information by insurance companies and would prohibit insurance companies from discriminating against an applicant based on genetic information, the refusal to submit genetic information, or for have been genetically tested in the past.Additionally, the Act would prohibit employers from using or collecting genetic information to make employment decisions. The Act also establishes a Genetic Nondiscrimination Study Commission that is charged with reviewing new developments in the field of genetics and advising Congress.

... Click to read more!

Genetic Genealogy in the news

This article is appearing in newspapers across the country (In the Rocky Mountain News [Thanks to Tim] and USA Today [Thanks to Megan]).  Martin Marshall never believed that his father was actually his biological father, and testing has shown that he is not related to at least one of his brothers.  Marshall then underwent Y-DNA testing in the hope of learning more about his father’s lineage.

“Marshall logged into an Internet database. He entered his DNA profile, and was astounded to find that virtually every person who closely resembled him genetically was named Sizemore.”

To date, Marshall does not know who his father was, but he is hoping that eventually the mystery will be solved.

8

Faces of Britain

face.jpg

In 2005 the Wellcome Trust established a £2.3 million project (roughly 4.5 million USD) at the University Oxford to examine the genetic makeup of the United Kingdom.The project would be led by the renowned geneticist and Oxford Professor Sir Walter Bodmer, joined by Oxford Professor Peter Donnelly (a population genetics and statistics expert) and the Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow Professor Lon Cardon.

The goal of the project is to establish a knowledge base for analyzing genes that are linked to disease.To do this, the researchers hoped to gather DNA from 3000 to 3500 volunteers throughout the UK who live in the same area as their parents and grandparents.Each volunteer’s DNA will be tested for 2000 SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms).The data will be combined with each volunteer’s medical history in the attempt to find a link between genetic make-up and the inheritability or susceptibility of a number of diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.The data will also be used to isolate DNA sequences that characterize the founders of each region of the UK, be they Viking, Saxon, or Celt.

... Click to read more!