X-Message-Number: 12693
Date: Mon, 1 Nov 1999 18:16:24 -0800 (PST)
From: Doug Skrecky <>
Subject: tissue preservation in the arctic

  Poinar HN.  Stankiewicz BA.
  Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Inselstrasse 22, Leipzig
  D-04103, Germany. 
  Protein preservation and DNA retrieval from ancient
  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of
  America.  96(15):8426-31, 1999 Jul 20.
  The retrieval of DNA from fossils remains controversial. To substantiate
  claims of DNA recovery, one needs additional information on the
  preservation of other molecules within the same sample.
  Flash pyrolysis with GC and MS was used to assess the quality of protein
  preservation in 11 archaeological and paleontological
  remains, some of which have yielded ancient DNA sequences authenticated via a
  number of criteria and some of which have consistently failed to yield any
  meaningful DNA. Several samples, including the Neanderthal-type specimen from
  which DNA sequences were recently reported, yielded abundant pyrolysis
  products assigned to 2,5-diketopiperazines of proline-containing dipeptides.
  The relative amounts of these products provide a good index of the amount of
  peptide hydrolysis and DNA preservation. Of these samples,
  four stem from arctic or subarctic regions, emphasizing the importance of
  cooler temperatures for the preservation of macromolecules.
  Flash pyrolysis with GC and MS offers a rapid and effective method for
  assessing fossils for the possibility of DNA preservation.

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