Ancient HLA genes from 7,500-year-old archaeological remains

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Title: Ancient HLA genes from 7,500-year-old archaeological remains
Author: Lawlor, David; Dickel, Cynthia; Hauswirth, William; Parham, Peter
Abstract: In the past decade there has been increasing interest in cloning DNA from ancient and preserved tissues1−6. Most studies, however, have focused on mitochondrial or chloroplast genes, present at hundreds to thousands of copies per cell compared with one or two for each nuclear gene7−9. With a probe containing Alu repeat sequences, Pääbo isolated a 3.4-kilobase DNA fragment from a 2,400-year-old Egyptian mummy10 which was subsequently shown to contain an intron of the nuclear gene HLA-DQA (ref. 11). Here we report a more targeted approach to the characterization of nuclear genes from archaeological specimens. The Windover pond of central Florida has provided skeletal and soft tissue remains from 165 humans, radiocarbon-dated to be 6,990−8,130 years old12−14. Using DNA obtained from one individual we have characterized segments from six nuclear genes: that for 2-microglobulin and five members of the class I HLA heavy chain gene family. Distinctive patterns of nucleotide substitution in the cloned heavy chain gene segments permit tentative assignment of the HLA-A,B type of the ancient individual.
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Date: 1991-02-28

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