Ancient HLA: a preliminary survey

Martin Evison, Nick Fieller, D. M. Smillie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recovery of single copy nuclear DNA sequences from ordinary archaeological tooth and bone specimens is necessary for testing models of the history and evolution of nuclear genes, and to complement results from ancient mitochondrial DNA analyses. Here we present a preliminary survey of ancient single copy nuclear DNA survival in archaeological material originating from a number of sites in Europe. The HLA complex and X-Y homologous amelogenin gene were chosen as targets because of their value in the study of kinship, gender, demography and immunity, and for the potential for DNA-independent verification of results. HLA-B27 and amelogenin DNA analysis of modem blood samples (n = 431) were used to establish the reliability of the protocols. DNA purification methods were refined using forensic material as a model substrate, and applied to a study of amelogenin and HLA-DPBl survival in forensic (n = 82) and archaeological (n = 92) specimens. Generalised linear interactive modelling established that there was no relationship between positive results and the presence or level of contamination detected in negative controls, Most promising results in this preliminary survey were obtained from specimens exhibiting superior gross morphological preservation from archaeological sites in Greece. Amplification refractory mutation system polymerase chain reaction analysis of Palaeolithic bone from Thessaly yielded an identical HLA-DRBl type from samples obtained from separate specimens from the same skeleton.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
JournalAncient Biomolecules
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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