March 30, 2007

DNA8 Conference

From the program of the 8th International Conference on Ancient DNA and Associated Biomolecules which took place last October.

Greenblatt Charles L., Towards the Molecular Archaeology of the Holyland
The history of the Israelite origin and residence in the area of present day
Israel stretches back through a number of important archaeological periods;
from the Early Bronze Age (3,500 BC), through the Iron Age (1150 – 586 BC),
the Hellenistic (300 BC) and the late Roman period (70 – 400 CE). Several
major questions dominate the archaeology of the Holyland. They concern the
origin of the Israelites, the maintenance of their social structure (that is the
priestly class, the kings, prophets and rabbis), and the conquest of the land
from the Cannanites. More generally stated, how did these nomads with a
record of bad kings, corrupt priests, conquest by major enemies – Egyptians,
Assyrians, Arameans (Syrians), Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans,
persist and even become dominant in the land? Molecular biology and aDNA
research can lend insights into some of these questions. Central to the
successful settlement was plant and animal domestication. Recently we have
been able to do the evolutionary tree of the indigenous grape and traced its
relationship to those of the Mediterranean basin. Parchments from the Dead
Sea Scrolls provide molecular signatures of early goat domesticates. Y
chromosome analysis shows relatedness of the Jews to Mesopotamian
populations, and on the same chromosome gene clusters define the priestly
class’s origin as occurring before the separation of the mainstreams of the
Jews. We are also gaining a better idea of the diseases of the Biblical period,
with a recent finding of a member of the elite class co-infected with leprosy
and tuberculosis.
Baca M. et al, Was Inca from Ccopan genetically different from his subjects?
Polish archeological team headed by dr M. Ziolkowski discovered in Ccopan
site in Peru a rich grave dated for XV century. Most probably, the grave
belonged to an Inca of high rank. We have amplified and analyzed the 290 bp
mtDNA fragment from the remnants (teeth) found in this grave and from the
remnants of 4 individuals buried nearby in much poorer graves. The aim of
this study is to verify the hypothesis that Inca leaders were ethnically different
from their subjects. We are planning to analyze mtDNA sequences from the
greater number of individual and to extend our study on the chromosome Y
Cipollaro M., del Gaudio S., Pompeii and Murecine: tales from ancient DNA
Ancient DNA extracted from individuals found in three houses located in
Pompeii and Murecine has been studied. Mitochondrial DNA and single genes
analysis has been carried out beside histochemical evaluation of bone tissue.
Data are shown concerning: a possible pedigree of Polybius house
inhabitants, the mitochondrial hypervariable segment I sequences of Murecine
remains and a single gene fragment sequence of three equids found in "Casti
Amanti" house.
The following abstract seems to contradict directly the recent paper on recent selection of Europeans' capacity to digest milk.

Fulge M., Renneberg R., Hummel S., Herrmann B., Lactose persistence in prehistoric individuals
Introduction: The dietary habits of ancient populations are often issues of
stake. With the domestication of animals like cattle, sheep and goat these
habits changed. The question since when milk and its products were used as
daily life aliment is of special interest, because the normal condition in
mammals is that after the lactation period they are not able to digest lactose.
In 95% of the European individuals the state of lactose tolerance maintains,
whereas in Africa and Asia 95% are lactose intolerant.
The point of time and the place of development of the lactase persistence are
in request. Two different theories of it exist. One is that the lactose tolerance
developed in Anatolia in the Neolithic period and would have spread in Europe
8000 years ago. The other theory declares a nomadic tribe (Kurgan culture)
as population of origin. Following this theory the lactose tolerance would have
spread 4500-3500 years ago.
One method to detect the status of the digesting ability of lactose is to
determine the pointmutation C/T (-13910) which is linked to the lactase gene.
If a T is realized (homo- or heterozygote) you are able to digest lactose. In this
study we investigated this mutation in 38 individuals of the Bronze Age
Lichtenstein Cave and in nine Celtic individuals from Manching to get a clue
when the lactose tolerance was spread in Europe.
Materials and Methods: The DNA was extracted of femora and mandibles with
a silica-based method on the EZ1-extraction robot (Qiagen). For detecting the
pointmutaion a dye labelled primer was designed. The upper primer contained
a mismatch which permits the digestion with HinfI if thymidin is realized at the
position 13910. For proving the authenticity of the results the lactose Primer
was coamplified with six autosomal STRs.
Results and Perspective: The lactose genotype could be amplified and
authenticated in 27 Individuals of the Lichtenstein Cave. About 60% were
lactose tolerant and around 40% were intolerant. Similar results were detected
in the nine Celtic individuals: around 50% was lactose intolerant. These high
rates of intolerant individuals suggest that even if stock farming was done
consume of milk was not a daily habit. These results give a hint that lactose
tolerance was not only spread 8000 years ago. For proving this thesis earlier
and later populations should be analysed.

Krause S., Scholten A., Hummel S., Cystic Fibrosis and Hemochromatosis in a Bronze Age population
Introduction: In present day Central European populations, Cystic Fibrosis
(CF) and Hereditary Hemochromatosis (HH) are the most common genetically
determined inherited diseases. Both defects are inherited in an autosomal
recessive mode. While for CF the rate of homozygosity is about 1:2000, the
value is even higher in HH (1:400). Possible reasons for the high incidence
are heterozygous advantages. In case of CF, individuals heterozygous for the
ΔF508 mutation do not suffer from dehydration in relation to diarrhoea, which
may have positively influenced the survival rate for newborn and infant
individuals in historic times. In case of HH which arises from SNPs called
C282Y and H63D women are less prone to suffer from the consequences of
iron loss due to menstrual bleeding and enhanced iron requirements during
pregnancy and lactation. Deviating alleles are thought to have accumulated
comparatively recently in European populations. Methods: The well preserved
Bronze Age skeletal remains of the Lichtenstein Cave from the Harz
mountains, which proved to be an invaluable genetic archive already in other
contexts (e.g. Δ32 ccr5, Hummel et al. 2005) now enabled to investigate the
genetic markers responsible for CF and HH. DNA extracts were processed
from bone powder of all 39 individuals with the help of the EZ1 Biorobot
(Qiagen) (cf. Poster of Wenzel et al.). The primers for the detection of the 3
bp-deletion ΔF508 on chromosome 7 indicating CF were co-amplified with the
STR typing kit Profiler Plus (Applied Biosystems). Therefore, each result for
ΔF508 is accompanied by a full genetic fingerprint ensuring the authenticity of
the amplification result. In case of HH the primers for C282Y and H63D were
each co-amplified with an octaplex STR amplification system, again
generating genetic fingerprint data. The determination of the SNPs were then
carried out through RFLP analysis of the entire amplification product. Results:
None of the Lichtenstein cave individuals revealed the 3bp deletion at the
ΔF508 locus. This result indicates that the increased allele frequencies of
ΔF508 in present day populations may indeed be a result of the younger
European history. In contrast, the typing of C282Y and H63D for HH indicates
that at least the polymorphism for C282Y must be older than the 2000 years
assumed since we found 8% of the 3000 years old Lichtenstein cave
individuals being heterozygous. However, none of the individuals is suspect to
have suffered from HH which requires the compound heterozygous state for
both loci. Although we found 36,5% of the individuals being either
homozygous (13,5%) or heterozygous (23%) for the mutation in H63D none of
these individuals is showing the mutation for C282Y as well. Again, the results
prove that the polymorphism H63D is much older than 3000 years.

Ovchinnikov I. et al., The Pleistocene Horse mtDNA Diversity in Sungir, Russia

Renneberg R. et al., Ancient DNA analysis of bones and textiles of prehispanic
populations settled in the Palpa Valley/Peru

Zawicki P. et al., Presence of Δ32CCR5 in medieval specimens from Poland

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