We have studied the feasibility of using dinucleotide-repeat microsatellites in the analysis of DNA from ancient bones and teeth. We have used three microsatellites (IVS8CA, IVS17BTA, and IVS17BCA) within the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene in 28 DNA samples from bones and teeth of up to 5000 years of age. PCR amplification was successful in 71.4% of cases. The repeated analysis of each marker produced different genotypes in 97% of samples, and the same individual genotype was reproduced at least once in 45.5% of cases. Alleles differing from the originals consisted of additions or deletions of 1-39 dinucleotides. The mechanism by which alleles differing from the originals were amplified can be related to the marked degradation of the DNA, with repeat sequences of different length interacting with the partially degraded repeats of the amplified loci. The repeated analysis of each sample allowed us to produce data with some anthropological interest. Among the haplotypes detected in samples from Easter Island, two (16-32-13 and 23-32-13) were found in more than one sample. Similarly, three haplotypes (16-7-17, 16-7-13, and 16-24-13) were detected more than once in samples from the Basque Country. Although haplotypes in the Basque Country are amongst the commonest in European chromosomes, most of those detected in the Easter Island samples are not frequent in Europeans. Thus, the repeated typing of microsatellites allowed us to postulate the genotypes that might be present in the samples but dinucleotide markers do not seem to be reliable enough for genotyping ancient bone and teeth samples.
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