The scientists uncovered the link between antibody makeup and ethnicity when they screened the chromosomes of 425 people of Asian, African and European descent for several DNA insertions and deletions.
"Again, it's early days," emphasizes Watson, "but these findings could mean that past environmental exposures to certain pathogens caused DNA insertions or deletions in different ethnic groups, which could impact disease risk. Our results demonstrate that antibody studies need to take into account the ethnicity of DNA samples used."
This study's findings will advance research on how IGH-related antibody genetic variation between individuals impacts our ability to fight viruses such as the flu and HIV.
Watson, Breden, three other SFU scientists (Jamie Scott, Jeffery Joy and Robert Holt), science alumnus Jeremy Willsey and researchers in the United States and at the B.C. Cancer Agency contributed equally to this study.
Evan Eichler, a scientist at Seattle's University of Washington genome sciences department and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, developed the technology making this study possible.
The American Journal of Human Genetics (Cell Press) published its findings in the article Complete Haplotype Sequence of the Human Immunoglobulin Heavy-Chain Variable, Diversity and Joining Genes and Characterization of the Allelic and Copy-Number Variation, in its March 28 issue.
|Contact: Carol Thorbes|
Simon Fraser University