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Old 08-27-2005, 06:51 PM   #1
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DNA links 10,000-year-old man to tribal descendants

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FROM: INDIANZ.COM WEBSITE

_http://64.62.196.98/News/2005/009970.asp_
(http://64.62.196.98/News/2005/009970.asp)

DNA links 10,000-year-old man to tribal descendants
Wednesday, August 24, 2005

DNA tests on a 10,300-year-old man discovered in Alaska links him to 47
tribal descendants in North and South America, The San Diego Union-Tribune
reports.
Paleontologist Timothy Heaton extracted DNA from "On Your Knees Cave Man"
and compared it to a database of Native people. He found 47 descendants
belonging to tribes as diverse as the Chumash in California, the Zapotec in Mexico
and the Quechua of Peru.
The connection was uncovered by examining the haplotype, or DNA mutation, of
the ancestor and his descendants. According to researchers, there are five
different haplotypes found among all Native Americans.
On Your Knees Cave Man was found in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska in
1996. The U.S. Forest Service worked with the Klawock Tribe and the Craig
Tribe on the excavation. Tribal members participated and observed the dig. The
tribes agreed to the DNA test, which was restricted to two teeth.
Get the Story:
_Long in the tooth _
(http://64.62.196.98/my.asp?url=http:...1c24tooth.html) (The San Diego
Union-Tribune 8/24)
_Politics plagued bones of Kennewick Man _
(http://64.62.196.98/my.asp?url=http:...4caveside.html)
(The San Diego Union-Tribune 8/24)

Copyright 2000-2005 Indianz.Com
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FROM: THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE NEWSPAPER

_http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/science/20050824-9999-lz1c24tooth.html_
(http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/s...1c24tooth.html)

Dental DNA reveals our ancient roots
By Leigh Fenly
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
August 24, 2005

JAMES DIXON
/ University of Colorado, Boulder
A cast of the human jaw found in On Your Knees Cave on Prince of Wales
Island in southeastern Alaska. UC Davis researchers have sequenced DNA from two
of the teeth - - the oldest ever extracted from ancient American remains
* _Politics plagued bones of Kennewick Man_
(http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/s...4caveside.html)
ASHLAND, Ore. Paleontologist Timothy Heaton was used to finding
35,000-year-old remains of brown bear, black bear, hoary marmot and antelope in On
Your Knees Cave, a tight opening tucked in the dense hemlocks of Alaska's vast
Tongass National Forest. But on the last day of excavation in 1996, as Heaton
was filling a final bag of sediment, he came upon something quite different.
A lower jaw. A pelvic bone. Obsidian worked into a spear point.
Unmistakable evidence of an ancient human.
Since, the effort to tease clues from the 10,300-year-old remains the
oldest ever found in Alaska or Canada has involved myriad research
laboratories, most recently the Molecular Anthropology Lab at UC Davis.
A tooth from On Your Knees Cave Man wrapped in cotton and shipped via
Federal Express arrived there in 2003. Brian Kemp, a Ph.D. candidate, removed
the tooth's crown and hammered out a quarter-gram portion of root. He
subjected it to bleach, a decalcifying chemical and a protein-devouring enzyme. With
a silica extraction, he got the tooth's DNA to jump out of the solution.
With the same process forensic scientists use to link DNA to criminals, Kemp
tricked the purified DNA into copying itself millions of times. The
resulting sequences the oldest DNA ever extracted from human remains in the
Americas revealed some of the old man's secrets.
_Graphic: Kinship with On Your Knees Cave Man_
(http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/s...ooth.html#name) Kemp's analysis, which
he will submit to Nature, confirmed the Ice Age remains as male and
established his maternal ancestry as Asian.
From differences in the genetic sequences, Kemp is now able to argue that
the cave man's DNA represents a new ancient lineage in North America. Comparing
that DNA to modern-day sequences, he also is suggesting changes to some
scientists' estimates of the time of the first migrations to the New World.
In the months to come, the results will likely be strenuously argued. Less
debatable is the fact that Kemp's work gets us closer to understanding who
first peopled North America and offers a glimpse at the tantalizing future of
genetic anthropology.
The human genome stores vast amounts of information on the movements,
relationships and adaptations of past populations. In the last decade, after some
embarrassing missteps and exaggerated claims, DNA technology has begun to
reveal some of that dormant information.
The promise is huge, says Nina Jablonski, an anthropologist at the
California Academy of Sciences. "As the early problems get solved, we're going to have
the framework to learn about relationships among ancient people. DNA is
going to answer all our questions about who is related to whom."
DNA's promise
At the moment, Kemp is relating to a cup of coffee. He's joined by his
peers: his adviser, David Glenn Smith, the respected director of Davis' Molecular
Anthropology lab; Ripan Malhi and Jason Eshleman, former students of Smith's
and partners in science and business; and John McDonough, Smith's jovial lab
manager.
They are earnest, confident, energized. Smith alone who brought them all
here, literally and figuratively has a quiet air.
Earlier this morning, each had muscled through PowerPoint presentations
describing their work at an American Association for the Advancement of Science
seminar at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. Now, in the sleek new, brick
library on campus, they are warming to shop talk. Teeth, for instance, and
contamination.
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Old 08-27-2005, 06:51 PM   #2
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JAMES DIXON
/ University of Colorado, Boulder
The entrance to On Your Knees Cave in southeastern Alaska. A lower jaw, some
pelvic bones, ribs and backbones of a 10,300-year-old skeleton were
excavated from the cave in 1996.
The field is so new, it's only now becoming clear that teeth are more likely
than bone to give up their DNA. The difficulties recovering any DNA from
ancient material are vast, since DNA begins to degrade immediately after death,
as water, oxygen and microbes attack it. But teeth, encased in enamel and
partly protected by the jaw bone, are turning out to be better harborers of
DNA. They have become the prizes in the DNA lab.
"In my 200 samples, I didn't have a single tooth," laments Eshleman, drawing
a face.
Malhi ribs him. "Oh, it's OK, Jason."
Eshleman's DNA studies using bones are helping make sense of
California's huge number of Native American languages. He's also found new evidence of
a very early coastal migration down the West Coast.
Similarly, Malhi is using DNA data to measure the impact of European contact
on the genetic diversity of Native Americans who populated the Columbia
Plateau.
The two have also founded Trace Genetics Inc., in Richmond, a private
company that has helped 1,000 people determine their Native American ancestry. For
one woman, adopted as a child, this was the first time she'd known for sure:
She is Native American, descended from Na-Dene speaking tribes.
In all such work, the single biggest hurdle is defeating contamination. The
PCR process, used to create millions of copies of DNA, has been compared to
a Xerox machine, although Malhi prefers to call it a "contamination factory."
"Lots of times I've done a sampling and gotten my own DNA sequence," he says
wryly.
That's because DNA is lying about everywhere. "What is it we each shed
millions of skin cells every day?" wonders McDonough. Each DNA-rich cell lying
on a lab bench, tucked into a glove is waiting to hook onto an ancient,
degraded sample.
In the 1990s, it was contaminated samples that led to false claims for DNA
sequences of dinosaurs and million-year-old plants and insects. Smith's lab at
Davis, one of the largest in the country, is a model for containment and
sterilization processes. Access to the lab is strictly limited. Equipment is
bleached and decontaminated on a regular basis. On file are the DNA records of
every employee, past and present, to compare to new results.
Whenever possible, Smith recommends duplicating the work. Kemp sequenced a
second tooth from On Your Knees Cave Man (OYKCM) in the lab of Malhi and
Eshleman. "When it came up the same," he says, "I knew the results were true."
Mother lode
To follow this conversation for long you need a vocabulary word:
mitochondrial DNA.
Most people are familiar with nuclear DNA our genes that come to us
courtesy of our mother and father, when the sperm fertilizes the egg and both sets
of genes mix.
As a tool for genetic anthropologists, nuclear DNA is troublesome because
all that reshuffling of genes makes it tough to trace a direct genetic line
from individual to individual.
But the mitochondria, the cell's energy-producing bodies, also have tiny
genomes, and these are inherited only from our mothers. Because there is no
mixing with male genes, Smith explains, mitochondrial DNA stays the same from
generation to generation, except when random mutations occur.
And mitochondrial DNA is abundant in cells compared to nuclear DNA and
therefore more likely to be extracted. It will never be enough to clone an early
cave man, but for Kemp, Smith and other genetic anthropologists, mitochondrial
DNA is the mother lode.
"This is what's allowing us to construct a history where there is no written
record," Smith says.
The reason they can do this is because the rate of mutation in mitochondrial
DNA remains constant over time in each individual, from prehistory to
modern-day, changes occur at the same rate. That rate of change is used as a
measuring stick for time known as the molecular clock.
To make sense of all the mutations, scientists group individuals with
similar sets of mutations into families known as haplogroups. Haplogroups are
further divided into smaller groups called haplotypes. OYKCM belongs to haplotype
D, one of five founding lineages that appear in North America. But his
haplotype is rare.
"When I first saw it, I wasn't sure what I was looking at," Kemp says. "He
was D-something else."
The D-something-else genetic sequence is like a fingerprint of inherited
mutations. Kemp wanted to find out if anyone living today had anything similar.
From a genetic database of 3,500 Native Americans, he found 47 individuals
living in North and South America who belong to the same haplotype. These are
the cave man's relatives, inheritors of his same fingerprint of mutations.
The 47 are widely spread, from California to Tierra del Fuego. Some belong
to California's Chumash tribe, Ecuador's Cayapa tribe and the Tarahumara in
Mexico. This wide dispersal is an important clue to the geographic reach of the
cave man's family and the migratory routes they might have taken.
Beyond migration questions, haplogroup studies can indicate conquest,
assimilation and language development filling in a broad canvas with small
strokes. "It's easy to get seduced by the big questions," says Smith, "but what
we're interested in are the smaller questions of what happened after the
peopling of the New World. We're interested in the intricacies."
One example is Eshleman's studies showing haplotype A occurring primarily in
British Columbia and the Channel Islands suggesting an early southerly
migration along the West Coast.
Mitochondrial DNA creates a partial record, to be sure, because it only
traces female populations. (The male trademark Y chromosome is notoriously
difficult to sequence in ancient samples, although Kemp was lucky to identify it in
OYKCM.)
Even so, DNA data may clarify the contentious debate surrounding the timing
of the first migrations to the New World.
Parallel dates
Here Kemp has tread, too.
In the late 1990s, scientists used DNA studies to propose that people first
advanced upon the continent from Asia as much as 40,000 years ago. But data
from numerous archaeological sites across the Americas have placed the
migration at closer to 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.
Kemp has used OYKCM as a measuring stick to come up with dates much closer
to the archaeological record. "Because we know that this guy represents the
oldest known example of this lineage, that places a minimum date on the
emergence of the lineage," he explains.
In other words, OYKCM represents one end of the measuring stick. At the
other end are the 47 people who belong to his haplotype. According to the rules
of the molecular clock, this makes it possible to measure the genetic changes
between OYKCM and the modern samples and calculate the time it would have
required for those changes to occur.
"My calibration shows that the changes were occurring two to four times
faster than previously thought," Kemp says. "It means some people have
overestimated the time. It wasn't so long ago."
That makes some of his colleagues wrong and previous DNA data flawed
but Kemp is satisfied. "I hope the impact of my paper will be to bring the
molecular timing more in line with the archaeological record," he says. "This is
what you want your work to do."
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