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Life scientists use novel technique to produce genetic map for African Americans
Date:7/22/2011

are very similar when you look at the broadest scales of the genome, we start to see variation in recombination between populations when we zoom in," said Daniel Wegmann, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar in Novembre's laboratory and the lead author of the study. "There are clear differences in recombination between Africans and Europeans, and African Americans tend to have a map that is a mixture between the African and European map, reflecting the mixture that took place between these two groups.

"If the position of a mutation is unknown and you want to pinpoint a gene linked to a disease, then recombination is important to help reveal in what region the gene lies," Wegmann said.

The mixture of African and European ancestry typical in the DNA of African Americans is reflected in recombination rates, Novembre said.

"No high-resolution recombination map has been inferred before for populations where the individuals have ancestry from different parts of the globe," Novembre said. "African Americans represent a unique combination of African and European ancestry. We found that if you know an African recombination rate for one region of the genome and you know the European rate, the African American rate sits about 80 percent of the way between the two. That is interesting, because the ancestry of African American DNA, on average, is 80 percent from African ancestral sources and 20 percent from European ancestral sources. The recombination rate reflects the ancestry."

The life scientists used an innovative method involving population genetic models in which they scanned the individual genomes of 2,565 African Americans, as well as 299 African Caribbeans, to study where in the genome each had African ancestry, where they had European ancestry, and where the "switch points" were that mark the location where the ancestry of a DNA segment changes.

Novembre and colleagues studied the ancestry of DNA segments to reconstruct w
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Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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