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Nucleic Acids Res. Apr 1, 1996; 24(7): 1304–1307.
PMCID: PMC145783

DNA damage and DNA sequence retrieval from ancient tissues.


Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) was used to determine the amounts of eight oxidative base modifications in DNA extracted from 11 specimens of bones and soft tissues, ranging in age from 40 to >50 000 years. Among the compounds assayed hydantoin derivatives of pyrimidines were quantitatively dominant. From five of the specimens endogenous ancient DNA sequences could be amplified by PCR. The DNA from these specimens contained substantially lower amounts of hydantoins than the six specimens from which no DNA could be amplified. Other types of damage, e.g. oxidation products of purines, did not correlate with the inability to retrieve DNA sequences. Furthermore, all samples with low amounts of damage and from which DNA could be amplified stemmed from regions where low temperatures have prevailed throughout the burial period of the specimens.

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Selected References

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