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Complete Neanderthal genome sequenced
Date:5/6/2010

a genome that existed 400 centuries ago. Their analysis shows the power of comparative genomics and brings new insights to our understanding of human evolution."

The Neanderthal DNA was removed from bones discovered at Vindija Cave in Croatia and prepared in the clean room facility of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (http://www.eva.mpg.de/english/index.htm) in Leipzig, Germany, to prevent contamination with contemporary DNA. The Max Planck group is led by their Department of Evolutionary Genetics Director Svante Pbo, Ph.D., a well-known pioneer in Neanderthal genome research. The team deposited the Neanderthal genome sequence in the publicly available NIH genetic sequence database GenBank (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genbank/).

To understand the genomic differences between present-day humans and Neanderthals, the researchers compared subtle differences in the Neanderthal genome to the genomes found in DNA from the five people, as well as to chimpanzee DNA. An analysis of the genetic variation showed that Neanderthal DNA is 99.7 percent identical to present-day human DNA, and 98.8 percent identical to chimpanzee DNA. Present-day human DNA is also 98.8 percent identical to chimpanzee.

"The genomic calculations showed good correlation with the fossil record," said coauthor Jim Mullikin, Ph.D., an NHGRI computational geneticist and acting director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center (http://www.nisc.nih.gov/). "According to our results, the ancestors of Neanderthals and modern humans went their separate ways about 400,000 years ago."

The comparison between Neanderthal and present-day human genomes has produced a catalog of genetic differences that allow the researchers to identify features that are unique to present-day humans. For example, the catalog include
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Contact: Larry Thompson
thompsl@mail.nih.gov
301-402-0911
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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