Home page

History

Isolation

Identification

Mutation rate

Case Study using mitochondrial analysis

russian-royal-family.jpg
Nicholas II and his family
On July 17, 1918, Tzar Nicholas the last king of Russia, has wife, children and servants were executed in Yekaterinburg by the Bolsheviks. In 1991, nine sets of heavily decomposed human remains were unearthed underneath a dirt road near Yekaterinburg, preliminary DNA analysis indicated that some of the remains were related.
Samples of suspected relatives were cross referenced with the remains exhumed from the burial site. One sample of mtDNA was obtained from Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh who is the grandson of Princess Victoria, the sample was cross referenced to identify Nicholas' wife and children. Nicholas himself was identified from samples obtained from his late brother Grand Duke George Alexandrovich of Russia, who himself died in 1890 from tuberculosis.
These tests indicated that the remains were of Nicholas II, his wife, children and servants. Interestingly, the remains believed to be of Nicholas contained a mixture of mitochondrial DNA, indicating that he had a condition known as heteroplasmy-resulting from the mutation of the genome where the sample contained multiple copies of mtDNA . This was the first instance of point mutation that was reported in skeletal remains[2], the finding of the investigation were not initially accepted until further evidence of mutation within mitochondria.



reference:
Graphic:
Mitochondrial Steve: paternal inheritance of mitochondria in humans picture: http://www.neatorama.com/2008/07/09/10-richest-people-of-all-time-and-how-they-made-their-fortunes/
journal article:
[2]Gill, p., Ivanov, P.L., Kimpton, C., Piery, R., Benson, N., Tully, G., Evett, I., Hagelberg, E., Sullivan,K., 1994, 'Identification of the remains of the Romanov family by DNA analysis', Nature Genetics vol 6. p.p. 130