Another Factor X…? What is the “Jomon Genome” of the Japanese? | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Another Factor X…? What is the “Jomon Genome” of the Japanese?

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A type of white blood cell that prevents severe disease caused by a new coronavirus HLA-A24 HLA-A24

On December 10, an article in the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that RIKEN has announced that HLA-A24, a type of white blood cell possessed by about 60% of Japanese people, prevents severe illness caused by the new coronavirus.

Since Japanese people have fewer cases of H1N1 coronavirus infections and deaths than overseas, it has been suggested from early on that there may be some factor unique to Japanese people (Factor X). If this is indeed Factor X, it has become a hot topic that may help in the development of therapeutic drugs.

There are many different types of HLA, and it has been known for a long time that there are differences between Westerners and Asians. However, until now, it was not known whether or not these differences prevented severe cases of the new coronavirus.

Dr. Seiya Saito, a professor at the National Institute of Genetics, said, “We have been trying to find a way to prevent the spread of HLV.

According to a recent publication, about 60% of Japanese people have HLA-A24, one of the HLA types, and when infected with the new coronavirus, the number of killer T cells that have been dormant in the body increases, possibly eliminating infected cells.

It is the immune cells that work against the virus. The immune cells are the ones that work against viruses, anticipating and waiting for various viruses and bacteria to enter the body. In particular, the type of white blood cell that is being discussed is HLA. There are many different types of HLA, and which type you have more of depends on your genetics,” says Seiya Saito.

I wonder if the new coronavirus that is raging around the world will not mutate human genes and cause people all over the world to carry HLA-A24.

We are born from our fathers and mothers. We get our DNA from our fathers and mothers. DNA We inherit DNA from our fathers and mothers, but mutations rarely occur, so our genome will be slightly different from our parents’. Mutations can occur after birth due to environmental stimuli, but they are not passed on to the child.

If the mutation is suitable for survival, it will be passed on.

HLA-A24 is a “gift” that the Japanese got by chance…

DNA is always mutating, and blood type is one of them. A long time ago, there were only A types, and then B, AB, and O types were born.

About 10% of the Japanese genome is inherited from the “Jomon” people…

According to Saito, about 10% of the Japanese genome contains genomes inherited from the Jomon people.

The Jomon genome is very rare in the world, with only 0.1 to 0.2 percent of people living on the Korean Peninsula, Taiwanese, and a few ethnic minorities living in the Amur River basin also having it.

Among the Japanese, the Ainu people have the largest number of Jomon genomes, followed by the people of Okinawa. As a result of our study of the genomes of the Jomon period people at the Funadomari site on the island of Rebun, we found that 50% of the Ainu people and 25% of the Okinawan people inherited the Jomon genome.

The Jomon people, who lived from Hokkaido to Okinawa during the Jomon period, which lasted from about 16,000 to 3,000 years ago, are known for their unique culture, including the creation of Jomon earthenware. The Jomon people are known for their unique culture, including the production of Jomon earthenware.

It is believed that the Jomon people originated from Southeast Asia because of their physical characteristics, such as their height of less than 160 cm for men and less than 150 cm for women, and their chiseled facial features, but it is not known where the ancestors of the Jomon people were born and how they arrived in the Japanese archipelago.

Is it possible that the Jomon genome is the reason why most Japanese people carry HLA-A24?

There are many traces of natural selection in the genome, and some of them may be resistant to some infectious diseases. But we don’t know if the Jomon genome has anything to do with that.

The pit dwellings that became popular during the Jomon period

Why is there a difference in the number of infected people…?

In South Korea, the number of infected people exceeded 7,000 on December 7, and the number of seriously ill people exceeded 850, despite the fact that more than 80% of the population has been vaccinated. There is also a serious shortage of medical care, with the occupancy rate of hospital beds reaching 73% in the metropolitan area. I wonder if Koreans, who also live in East Asia, do not have HLA-A24.

It is thought that many people in East Asia have HLA-A24 as well as Japanese, but this is not known for Koreans.

However, the increase in the number of infected people in Korea is probably due to the difference in countermeasures rather than the difference in constitution between Japanese and Koreans. In Korea, restaurants were allowed to open 24 hours a day, etc., and economic activities were prioritized, almost returning to the pre-Covid-19 lifestyle.

In Japan, on the other hand, almost everyone wears a mask and various preventive measures are taken in restaurants. I think this is one of the main reasons why there are so few people infected.

Will the Japanese become like South Korea if they are not careful?

I don’t think HLA-A24 is a panacea. If the virus changes, it may not be able to catch up with HLA-A2 no matter how hard it tries. Even if 60% of people have HLA-A24, we shouldn’t be careless.

Clay figurines were also created by the Jomon people. The earthen storehouse excavated from the Kamegaoka site in Tsugaru City, Aomori Prefecture, is famous.

Shigeya Saito is a geneticist. Professor at the National Institute of Genetics, the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, and the Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, the University of Tokyo. Associate member of the Science Council of Japan. He regularly publishes the results of his research on the kinship between Ainu and Ryukyu people. He is the author of “The Origin of the Japanese as Traced by Nuclear DNA Analysis” (Kawade Shobo Shinsha) and “The Birth of the Japanese as Revealed by the Latest DNA Research” (Shuwa System). (Kawade Shobo Shinsha), “The Birth of the Japanese” (Shuwa System), “Humankind is a failure” (SB Shinsho), and many others.

  • Interview and text by Izumi Nakagawa

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