23andMe – My Genes

I recently signed up to do 23andMe. This is a service that sequences your DNA and provides in-depth analyses of various traits and risk factors as well as a detailed analysis of your family history and origins.

They offer two options: a cheaper $100 Ancestry Service which just shows you where you’re from, or the more expensive $200 Health + Ancestry Service which also gives you access to your entire genome and the details of all your genes and what they mean.

I chose the latter, and soon thereafter received my specimen container. A test tube came in the mail for me to spit in and send back. It took about 6 or 7 weeks to get my results.

My Origins

I was not surprised to learn that I am 99.8% European, as I have done lots of genealogy work to learn about my family’s history. I WAS surprised to learn that one of my fifth or sixth-grandparents on my mom’s side was 100% African. It was even able to determine that they were likely born between 1720 and 1840 based on the genes I got from them. This is definitely not reflected by the family tree! Somebody had a secret 😉

CCR5: HIV immunity

I was very interested to see my CCR5 gene expression. I was hoping to have homozygous CCR5-Δ32. This would mean I received the Δ32 gene mutation from both parents, and am completely immune to HIV. Based on my haplogroups, I have a high relative probability of having this gene. Unfortunately, I am only heterozygous for CCR5-Δ32. This means one parent, in this case my dad based on his haplogroups, gave me the gene, but my mom did not. Having heterozygous CCR5-Δ32 means that my cells have less than 50% of the normal functioning chemokines. These are a structure which some viruses like HIV or the common cold use to get into cells. So I am far less likely to get HIV than someone without any CCR5-Δ32 genes, but far more likely than someone with two. It’s not the news I was hoping for, but still a plus. I will have to keep taking PrEP, but I will rest easier knowing that the PrEP has backup.

GJB2: Deafness

I was also interested to see my GJB2 expression. This is the gene linked to genetic deafness. My family is very active in deaf culture and the deaf community. My genotype was G:G which is described as having “unclear significance with regard to deafness.” It is at least not the genotype we know will cause problems.

Other Insights

They accurately determined my weight and height based on my age as well as my hair and eye color. They also gave me lots of suggestions. For example, I am more likely to gain weight if I eat saturated fats, compared to the average person. And I am not genetically predisposed to lactose intolerance, meaning my current lactose intolerance is likely due to a lack of bacterial cultures as a result of rarely eating lactose. Luckily, there were no scary red flags like cancer risks or any other serious diseases I am predisposed to.

Conclusions

This was very interesting, and I think I will probably try some of the competing products to compare my results and see if they have any deeper insights.

I highly recommend 23andMe to anyone curious about their heritage or their genetic predispositions! And please tell me how it goes for you!

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