Scientists Claim Woman's DNA Sequenced

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Men have claimed the DNA-sequencing spotlight until now. Today, Dutch scientists said they have completed the first sequencing of an individual woman's DNA.

The achievement was announced at a meeting of scientists and journalists in The Netherlands, but the work has not yet been peer reviewed or published.

The researchers at Leiden University Medical Center claim to have sequenced the DNA of geneticist Marjolein Kriek, who works there.

"It was time, after sequencing four males, to balance the genders a bit," said professor Gert-Jan B van Ommen, who led the work.

The first working draft of the human genome (the sequence of chemical base pairs that make up DNA and the genes they comprise) was presented in 2000; it was the combined genome of a small group of donors. The personal genome of James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA's double helix structure, came in 2007. Later the complete genome of gene hunter Craig Venter was published.

Recently the completion of the sequences of two Yoruba-African males was announced.

"While women don’t have a Y-chromosome, they have two X-chromosomes," van Ommen said. "As the X-chromosome is present as a single copy in half the population, the males, it has undergone a harsher selection in human evolution. This has made it less variable. We considered that sequencing only males, for ‘completeness,’ slows insight into X-chromosome variability."

Genes are the blueprints of life, carrying the evolved traits (good or bad) from one generation to the next. Researchers expect a better understanding of the human genome will lead to disease cures and treatments.

"The sequencing itself took about six months," said Johan den Dunnen, another member of the team. "Partly since it was run as a 'side operation' filling the empty positions on the machine while running other projects. Would such a job be done in one go, it would take just ten weeks."

Live Science Staff
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