Tuesday, January 8, 2008
My Family Tree DNA
One of my interests is studying DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) and how genetics is carving the path for many exciting possibilities! For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with microbiology. I couldn't wait to get my hands on a microscope! Just like the mysteries of the ocean, there's a vast new world hidden within our body. Like an army prepared for battle, our immune system recognizes the enemy and attacks. We truly are fearfully and wonderfully made! Psalm 139:14
Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus, but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria.
The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T).
Human DNA consists of about 3 billion bases, and more than 99 percent of those bases are the same in all people. The order, or sequence, of these bases determines the information available for building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences.
DNA bases pair up with each other, A with T and C with G, to form units called base pairs. Each base is also attached to a sugar molecule and a phosphate molecule. Together, a base, sugar, and phosphate are called a nucleotide. Nucleotides are arranged in two long strands that form a spiral called a double helix. The structure of the double helix is somewhat like a ladder, with the base pairs forming the ladder’s rungs and the sugar and phosphate molecules forming the vertical sidepieces of the ladder.
DNA can replicate, or make copies of itself. Each strand of DNA in the double helix can serve as a pattern for duplicating the sequence of bases. This is critical when cells divide because each new cell needs to have an exact copy of the DNA present in the old cell.
Believe it or not, if you took all of the DNA in all of your cells and laid it out end to end, it would stretch to the moon and back about 130,000 times!
When studying our DNA to trace our ancestry, we focus on DNA MUTATIONS.
Everyone acquires some changes to their DNA during the course of their lives. These changes occur in a number of ways. Sometimes there are simple copying errors that are introduced when DNA replicates itself. (Every time a cell divides, all of its DNA is duplicated so that the each of the two resulting cells have a full set of DNA.) Other changes are introduced as a result of DNA damage through environmental agents like sunlight, cigarette smoke, and radiation, and illnesses. Our cells have built in mechanisms that catch and repair most of the changes that occur during DNA replication or from environmental damage. As we age, however, our DNA repair does not work as effectively and we accumulate changes in our DNA.
Through these mutations, we are given a glimpse into the history of our blueprint, and recognizing ancestral traits that are passed down from generation to generation! I HIGHLY encourage you to research further on genetics, as I've only touched the surface of this exciting topic!
The ancestral route of the Y-Chromosome from my father & brother's DNA
Through National Geographic's genome project, my brother paid $99.95 plus shipping to trace our male line Y-Chromosome - which can only be passed down from father to son, generation to generation.
The above migration patterns shows the results of his DNA sequences - We are listed as Haplogroup J- with the Y-chromosome markers as M168, M89, M304
Descendants of this line appear the highest in frequency in the Middle East.
Again, because of a mutation, (a random and natural occurance) this acts like a beacon - mapping our ancestral line, passed down from father to son, and so on, for thousands of years.
As we all know, our ancestors originated out of AFRICA - the first of the male line started with ADAM. Through my dad's ancestral migration patterns, the genetic code shows that my father's first ancestors left Africa, and settled in the fertile crescent region that extends from the Mediterranean sea to the Persian Gulf where the Euphrates river and the Tigris forms the rich flood plains. Today, the region includes all, or parts of Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
Wanting to dig further on our family tree markers, my brother took another test with a different laboratory - the results CONFIRMED the original results but gave us a deeper glimpse. Our paternal line is J1 CMH - J1 Cohen Model Haplogroup. This links our paternal ancestry to be direct descendents of the priesthood, Aaron, brother of Moses. Tribe of Levi. Again, only the Y-chromosome can be passed from father to son.
Wanting to examine further our X-chromosome MITOCHONDRIAL line, I will be submitting my DNA to test our ancestral passages on our mother's side. At this point, we know we are German on the maternal side, but when examining our documented family tree, I notice that our German ancestry belongs to my grandfather on my mother's line. This will NOT show in my own MTDNA test, but rather the test will show the migration patterns from my ancient grandmother, that can only be passed down from mother to daughter, for generations. My brother is lucky, as his DNA consists of BOTH Y and X chromosomes, allowing him to test BOTH his maternal and paternal sides! (As we all know, females inherit only the X chromosome, and males inherit BOTH the X and the Y).
Either way, I do plan to post the results of our MATERNAL ancestry as soon as I submit and receive back the results.
For further study, you can view the migration patterns of my husband who had tested as R1B - linking him to be of British/Irish ancestry. Through the Family Tree DNA project, he is already making contacts with distant cousins!
Husband's haplogroup, R1B
My husband tested both is maternal and paternal sides. The resulting find shows the migration patterns of his mother. Similar somewhat to his dad's with varying differences in his ancestors migration throughout Europe. She too shows a high percentage rate in Ireland, with some veerance in France, and Germany. All in all, both parents show a high percentage as being British and Irish. I'm still studying this further, and am sure, updates may change this perspective!
Mitochondrial Haplogroup H
Stay tuned for updates on my mitochondrial test results!