Friday, September 23, 2016

Maternal Line

Back to where I started a few days ago, I decided to bite the bullet and send in some of my white blood cells to see what I might learn about my biological history—and to be analyzed for mitochondrial DNA. Unlike chromosomal DNA that is inherited from both parents, you get all your mitochondrial DNA from your mother. Mutations accumulate in mitochondrial DNA more quickly than in chromosomal DNA, so it's possible to trace your maternal ancestry way back beyond any relatives you may know by name—simply by tracking the inheritance of mutations in mitochondrial DNA. In due time the results came back. The markers that DNA Solutions identified show I belong to Haplogroup H, the most common Haplogroup in Europe, occurring in 40-60% of the population. My common female ancestor supposedly is a woman known as Mitochondrial Eve. Four initial groups of descendants known as Haplogroups Lo-L3 are related to Mitochondrial Eve. Group Lo apparently is now extinct, but Group L-3 divided into two subtypes: M and N. A DNA marker at position 10875T of my mitochondrial DNA, shows that I am a descendent of Haplogroup N. More in my next blog.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

DNA Ancestry, 3

A mutation is a change in the spelling of a DNA sequence (think of your body having a spell-check for DNA sequences and that for some reason or other it fails). Your DNA contains mutations that typically are quite harmless. Some, however, are harmful and may be responsible for triggering abnormal conditions and specific diseases. For example, sickle cell anemia can be caused by a change in one single gene! Although 99% of your DNA is located in your chromosomes, the remaining 1% of your DNA is located in the mitochondria. The mitochondria in human cells are the energy factories that produce the energy-rich molecule known as ATP or adenosine triphosphate. Scientists are linking mitochondrial DNA defects with a wide range of age-related diseases including neurodegenerative disorders, some forms of heart disease, diabetes, and various cancers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

DNA Ancestry, 2

According to Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington, associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine, for over forty years it has been assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impacted how proteins were made—now it appears that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture. New findings highlight that DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which nature has fully exploited in unexpected ways. For example, DNA consists of a 64-letter (codon) alphabet that spells out the genetic code. The letters (codons) are organized into words and sentences called genes. About 15% of the 64-letter (codon) alphabet are dual-use letters known as duons. They simultaneously specify both amino acids and something called transcription factor (TF) sequences. This means that many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously. Enter misspellings—otherwise referred to as mutations. Part 3 tomorrow.   

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

DNA Ancestry

Have you done DNA testing? I decided to bite the bullet and send in some of my white blood cells to see what I might learn about my biological history. Before I go into that, a bit of review. As you probably already know from high school biology, your complete set of genetic information is encoded within 23 pairs of chromosomes in the nucleus of your cells—the 23rd pair typically being a XX or a XY pattern. (Not all cells have a nucleus, by the way. Red-blood cells, for instance, do not.) A chromosome is a single piece of coiled DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid, a biomolecule that holds the blueprint for how living organisms are built. 99% of all DNA in your body is found in your chromosomes. Segments of DNA called genes are passed down from parents to child and confer traits to the offspring. Humans have 25,000-30,000 genes, usually in pairs (one from each parent). 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Geneology, Genology, Genealogy, or Geneaology

Shows such as ‘Finding Your Roots’ and ‘PBS Genealogy Roadshow’ seem to heightening some interest in the topic of one’s lineage or biological ancestry. And there appears to be some misunderstanding of which word actually represents the correct spelling. Data from WordTracker reported that over a two-month period:
·         10,722 searches were done for ‘genealogy’
·         5,988 searches were done for ‘geneology’
·         711 searches were done for ‘geneaology’
·         302 searches for “genology"

With my brain bent in the right frontal lobe (where there are little if any written language functions) it’s easy for me to exhibit very creative spelling. Therefore, I checked several dictionaries and every one of them listed genealogy as the correct spelling. (I’m not sure I ever used that spelling!) Anyway, it definitely got me thinking about the topic.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Lexophilia and Lexophiles, 4

1.   The dead batteries were given out free of charge.
2.   If you take a laptop computer for a run you could jog your memory.
3.   A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail.
4.   A bicycle can’t stand alone; it is two tired.
5.   A will is a dead giveaway.
6.   Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
7.   A backward poet writes inverse.
8.   In a democracy it’s your vote that counts; in feudalism, it’s your Count that votes.

9.   A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nicotine is Nicotine

Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of sickness and mortality, responsible for over 400,000 deaths in the United States each year. The worst health consequences associated with smoking (e.g., cancer and heart disease) are linked to inhalation of tar and other chemicals produced by tobacco combustion; the pleasurable, reinforcing, and addictive properties of smoking are produced mostly by the nicotine contained in tobacco. [Using PET Scans, researchers at the University of Michigan (in the first human study) showed that (like heroin and morphine) smoking cigarettes stimulates the brain's production of dopamine and chemicals known as opioids. Smoking cigarettes triggers the release of addictive feel-good brain chemicals, notably dopamine and opiods. It appears that smokers have an altered opioid flow all the time, when compared with non-smokers.] According to WebMD, e-cigarettes are already a booming, billion-dollar industry, on track to outsell tobacco products within a decade. The number of teens and tweens using these products doubled between 2011 and 2012.