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Brief communication: identification of the authentic ancient DNA sequence in a human bone contaminated with modern DNA


Bouwman, Abigail S; Chilvers, Elizabeth R; Brown, Keri A; Brown, Terence A (2006). Brief communication: identification of the authentic ancient DNA sequence in a human bone contaminated with modern DNA. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 131(3):428-431.

Abstract

We present a method to distinguish authentic ancient DNA from contaminating DNA in a human bone. This is achieved by taking account of the spatial distribution of the various sequence families within the bone and the extent of degradation of the template DNAs, as revealed by the error content of the sequences. To demonstrate the veracity of the method, we handled two ancient human tibiae in order to contaminate them with modern DNA, and then subjected segments of the bones to various decontaminating treatments, including removal of the outer 1-2 mm, before extracting DNA, cloning, and obtaining a total of 107 mitochondrial DNA sequences. Sequences resulting from the deliberate contamination were located exclusively in the outer 1-2 mm of the bones, and only one of these 27 sequences contained an error that could be ascribed to DNA degradation. A second, much smaller set of relatively error-free sequences, which we ascribe to contamination during excavation or curation, was also located exclusively in the outer 1-2 mm. In contrast, a family of 72 sequences, displaying extensive degradation products but identifiable as haplogroup U5a1a, was distributed throughout one of the bones and represents the authentic ancient DNA content of this specimen.

We present a method to distinguish authentic ancient DNA from contaminating DNA in a human bone. This is achieved by taking account of the spatial distribution of the various sequence families within the bone and the extent of degradation of the template DNAs, as revealed by the error content of the sequences. To demonstrate the veracity of the method, we handled two ancient human tibiae in order to contaminate them with modern DNA, and then subjected segments of the bones to various decontaminating treatments, including removal of the outer 1-2 mm, before extracting DNA, cloning, and obtaining a total of 107 mitochondrial DNA sequences. Sequences resulting from the deliberate contamination were located exclusively in the outer 1-2 mm of the bones, and only one of these 27 sequences contained an error that could be ascribed to DNA degradation. A second, much smaller set of relatively error-free sequences, which we ascribe to contamination during excavation or curation, was also located exclusively in the outer 1-2 mm. In contrast, a family of 72 sequences, displaying extensive degradation products but identifiable as haplogroup U5a1a, was distributed throughout one of the bones and represents the authentic ancient DNA content of this specimen.

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23 citations in Web of Science®
28 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:November 2006
Deposited On:01 Sep 2014 14:58
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 18:21
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0002-9483
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.20411
PubMed ID:16596603

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