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Genetic map of African-Americans to aid study of diseases, human evolution
Date:7/20/2011

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A surprise was that the map turned out to be different than those based on people of European and other non-African ancestries.

"The landscape of recombination has shifted in African-Americans compared with Europeans," said Anjali Hinch, the study's first author and a post-graduate student at the Oxford University's Wellcome Trust Centrefor Human Genetics.

Wilson said the African-American genome has become distinct because of recombination in the U.S. during the past two to three centuries.

"African-Americans are a genetically distinguishable group from other continental populations," he said. "African-Americans differ from their African ancestors in that most of them also have genes from European ancestors."

The researchers knew that going into the project. But once they analyzed the breakpoints where recombination occurs in African-American genomes, an unexpected difference appeared.

"Over half of African-Americans carry a version of the biological machinery for recombination that is different to that in Europeans. As a result, African-Americans experience recombination where it almost never occurs in Europeans," Myers said.

Scientists have only recently begun to explore the genetic differences between individuals and populations and the roles those differences play in human health. In that respect, the first draft of the human genome, completed a decade ago, was only a starting point for understanding the genetic origins of disease.

As researchers begin to parse those differences, a crucial tool is a genetic map, as it determines how some groups of genetic differences tend to be inherited together. Recombination, together with mutation, accounts for all the genetic (and thus physical) variety we see within species. But while mutation refers to the errors introduced into single locations within genomes when cells divide, recombination refers to the process by which huge chunks of chromosom
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Contact: Jack Mazurak
jmazurak@umc.edu
601-984-1970
University of Mississippi Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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