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Ancestral genome of present-day African great apes & humans had burst of DNA sequence duplication
Date:2/11/2009

l duplications for four primate genomes: macaque, orangutan, chimpanzee, and human. They then compared the duplications across the four species. They characterized a duplication as shared if it occurred in two or more of the four species and lineage-specific if it was found in just one species. A small fraction of the duplicated content was human-specific, while the major part of duplications was shared with the other species.

"Our team found striking examples of recurrent duplications of DNA segments that happened independently in different lineages," the researchers said. "Most of the shared duplications were already present in the chimp-human common ancestor, but these are highly variable in copy number between and within human and great ape species."

Scientists have had difficulty determining why humans and chimps differ so much at a physical and behavioral level but are genetically so similar. Chimps and people share almost 99 percent of the non-duplicated sequences of their genomes; their proteins are virtually identical; and there are very few rearrangements that distinguish ape-human chromosomes. In contrast, the researchers noted that the duplicated sequences show much more variation than the other portions of the genetic code.

"There is still no final answer as to why chimps and humans are different," Marques-Bonet and Kidd said. "Maybe segmental duplications that are specific to humans are another layer to explore, or maybe the distinction between human and chimps is not found in these genetic differences.

"What is certain is that genetic differences contribute significantly to what makes a human and chimp different, and we know that these regions of our genetic code are changing much more rapidly than most others. The next challenge will be making sense of all these differences and the genes that are affected by them."


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Contact: Leila Gray
leilag@u.washington.edu
206-685-0381
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2

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