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Subject: [DNA] Mitochondrial DNA match!
Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2000 20:55:35 EDT


I submitted DNA samples for myself and my 4th cousin 3 times removed to
http://www.oxfordancestors.com for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis -- and
the results came back with a perfect match! We both go back in a straight
line of females to our most recent common ancestor Pamela NIMS, born in 1794
in Shelburne, MA. Now I'll be devoting part of my genealogy time and money
budget to looking for "mtDNA cousins" who are descendants of a still more
distant ancestor.

This kind of DNA is transmitted through maternal lines without any mixing or
shuffling, so your mtDNA is the same as your mother's, your mother's mtDNA is
the same as HER mother's, and so on for many generations. Rarely, mutations
(changes) do occur, so that there are now many thousands of known mtDNA
patterns in the world.

I was so excited about the results of my test that I decided to start a
mailing list "for anyone with DNA who would like to discuss methods and share
results of DNA testing as applied to genealogical research." I will be
posting more to the list in the coming weeks, but as a starter I would like
to propose that people who report results of their mtDNA tests use a standard
format, so it can be easily searched in the archives of the mailing list.

mtDNA is a long molecule composed of 16,569 smaller units ("bases") called
Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine, and Guanine, abbreviated ATCG. A sequence is
reported as a string of letters, ATTAGCTCA.... Some four hundred of the bases
in mtDNA, starting at #16001, are in a region where most mutations
accumulate, and that is what a report from Oxford Ancestors will show you.
I've uploaded a scanned copy of my report in PDF format to
http://members.aol.com/apturner/mtdna-apt.pdf.

Your pattern is compared to a standard reference sequence, and any
differences will be printed in a different color. If you count off the
positions, you can simply report your sequence as the numbers of the red
letters. I happened to have just one mutation, 16293G. My husband have
several, 16111T 16129A 16223T 16304C 16354T 16391A. The whole pattern is
important for a match, so if someone had just 1611T 16223T 16304C, they would
NOT be a match for my husband.

I've posted my report in PDF format (167K) at
http://members.aol.com/apturner/mtdna-apt.pdf. Note that Oxford Ancestors
assigns you to a "clan" and gives you a narrative report about your "deep"
ancestry from thousands of years ago. That's intriguing but rather
generalized, so it is not as useful for genealogical research as the exact
sequence.

Some may be concerned about issues of privacy. I do think this is a topic
which warrants extended discussion on this list. However, my personal
decision is to post my results in hopes of finding other cousins who might be
connected even further back than Pamela Nims. The hypervariable region of
mtDNA which Oxford Ancestors uses does not code for any proteins, so I am not
giving away any secrets about my medical history. That makes me more
comfortable about an open approach.

I would like to develop a FAQ for this mailing list, with help from those who
have questions and those who have answers. I do think we are just at the
beginning of discovering the potential of DNA for genealogical research.

Ann Turner


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