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Thread: Unusual Big Y results between descendants of immigrant brothers

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    Unusual Big Y results between descendants of immigrant brothers

    The Wing Family in America actually does descend from three brothers (John, Daniel & Stephen) who came to New England in 1632. Y-DNA descendants of each of the three brothers took FTDNA’s Big Y test. The original (Build 37) Big Y results were consistent with the descendants being distant relatives on the Y-DNA line and we discovered a number of SNPs which are unique to only this Wing family.

    When FTDNA converted the Big Y results to Build 38 a surprising result was uncovered. Two of the three individuals were positive for a SNP (BY35984) while the third individual (a descendant of the youngest brother) was negative for this SNP. Simple genetics state a Y-DNA mutation occurs during the development of sperm and would result in only one of three brothers having a mutation.

    Each of the three individuals had more than enough Big Y reads for the calls to be confirmed. One result had 22 out of 24 reads to be derived; the second result had 35 out of 35 reads to be derived, but the third result had 33 out of 33 reads to be ancestral. While this SNP is located near the centromere of the Y-DNA chromosome (a highly repetitive region), FTDNA has reported the two individuals positive for BY35984 are the only positive results for this SNP to date.

    Given this surprising result, we are faced with two options. Either the family tree is wrong (and the third brother is not a genetic brother, but another Y-DNA relative), or another kind of Y-DNA mutation occurred. Both of these options (on their face) appear to be extremely unlikely, but the Big Y results themselves provide incontrovertible evidence that something extremely unusual occurred.

    I will first document why I believe it is nearly impossible for there to be an error in the family tree, and in another post I will talk about what seems to be the most likely way for a genetic mutation to be passed along to two sons, but not a third son.

    The family tree is solid and the possibility of an error is extremely low. The three brothers were born roughly within a decade of one another (the oldest born in 1611 and the youngest about 1621) so it is impossible for there to be two brothers and a son of one of the brothers (or alternately a father and two sons). One of the brothers (the eldest) moved roughly 20 miles away from the other two brothers almost immediately after marrying, so it is unlikely a mistake was made in identifying a Y-DNA descendant of this brother. (If the brother who moved away was the youngest brother whose descendant was negative for the SNP, it would have been possible for the two individuals positive for the SNP to actually descend from the same brother and their line had been mixed up at some point).

    The father of the three brothers was a noted non-conformist priest, Rev. John Winge. He did have brothers who had children, but Rev. John was the only son to move away from the family home (Banbury, England) and eventually moved to mainland Europe (Hamburg and later the Low Countries) to escape religious persecution. Thus, it is also inconceivable for him to adopt a son of one of his brothers. In addition, his brothers stopped having children in 1606, 1613 & 1614, so it would be extremely unlikely that one of them would have a son born about 1621 (when the individual who was negative for BY35984 was born).
    Last edited by Wing Genealogist; 12-27-2018 at 12:45 PM.
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  3. #2
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    In regards to how could a mutation be passed along to two sons but not passed along to a third son, I posed this question to some experts (including Michael Sager, who runs the lab at FTDNA). They stated the most likely issue was Genetic Chimerism.

    Genetic chimerism is when a single organism is composed of cells with distinct genotypes. While the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimera_(genetics) states “Animal chimeras are produced by the merger of multiple fertilized eggs” chimerism is also possible during the cell division of a developing fetus, where a mutation during the process is propagated to some (but not all) of the cells.

    If a mutation occurred during the development of the male gonads, it may be possible (in theory) for some of the sperm to have the mutation (BY35984) while other sperm not have this mutation.

    One of the individuals I posed this issue to, Iain McDonald, is a Statistician. He estimated the odds of this sort of chimerism being found in three brothers is roughly one in 200 families, so while unusual, it appears to be the most likely genetic explanation to what may have caused this surprising result.

    Other possible genetic explanations were all much more unlikely. They include a back mutation (odds roughly 1 in 250,000), a bad Big Y read (roughly one in 250 billion), bad mapping in test (less than one in a million), and recombination within the Y-Chromosome, or gene swapping between chromosomes (which would almost certainly result in a whole host of odd results, and the chance of getting back the ancestral result at the location of BY35984 is too remote to compute).
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    If Thomas and Astrid Krahn weren’t among the experts you consulted already, you might send them an email at YSeq and ask about this SNP. The FTDNA BY Index says BY35984 is at hg38 position 11523152 which is inside a region of the Y that is prone to recombination and YSeq at least advises that those not be used for branching purposes.

    I’m not saying the other experts are wrong by any means; it may just be criteria unique to YSeq; but if you haven’t already talked to them they may give you ideas that raise the odds on either the recombination or another of your possibilities.

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    Very interesting. I'm pretty sure Daniel was my 9th GGrandfather, but I'm descended from his (6th?) daughter, Beulah, so am no help at all with the Y-SNPs.
    R1b>M269>L23>L51>L11>P312>DF19>DF88>FGC11833 >S4281>S4268>Z17112>BY44243

    Ancestors: Francis Cooke (M223/I2a2a) b1583; Hester Mahieu (Cooke) (J1c2 mtDNA) b.1584; Richard Warren (E-M35) b1578; Elizabeth Walker (Warren) (H1j mtDNA) b1583;
    John Mead (I2a1/P37.2) b1634; Rev. Joseph Hull (I1, L1301+ L1302-) b1595; Benjamin Harrington (M223/I2a2a-Y5729) b1618; Joshua Griffith (L21>DF13) b1593;
    John Wing (U106) b1584; Thomas Gunn (DF19) b1605; Hermann Wilhelm (DF19) b1635

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave-V View Post
    If Thomas and Astrid Krahn weren’t among the experts you consulted already, you might send them an email at YSeq and ask about this SNP. The FTDNA BY Index says BY35984 is at hg38 position 11523152 which is inside a region of the Y that is prone to recombination and YSeq at least advises that those not be used for branching purposes.

    I’m not saying the other experts are wrong by any means; it may just be criteria unique to YSeq; but if you haven’t already talked to them they may give you ideas that raise the odds on either the recombination or another of your possibilities.
    I have consulted the Krahn's. Because the SNP is near the centromere (and is highly repetitive), they won't touch it with the proverbial ten foot pole. While they even questioned the validity of this SNP (due to the highly repetitive area it is located in), FTDNA was able to achieve plenty of calls in the three Wings sampled (24, 33 & 35) and the calls were consistent enough to be reliable. In addition, Michael Sager from FTDNA stated this SNP has not been found in any other Big Y test besides the two out of three Wings tested.
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    I've seen one similar case and another that could turn out to be similar when more testing is done. I think that something going on which as of yet has not been discovered.

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    This could’ve been caused by somatic mosaicism rather than chimerism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Power77 View Post
    This could’ve been caused by somatic mosaicism rather than chimerism.
    Thank you. After looking up the definition (for which you provided the link), I do believe somatic mosaicism is a more accurate term than genetic chimerism. I was simply using the term given to me when I asked the experts what could possibly be the cause of this unusual result.
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