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Genetic based human diseases are an ancient evolutionary legacy
Date:10/16/2008

This press release is available in German.

Tomislav Domazet-Loo and Diethard Tautz from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Pln, Germany, have systematically analysed the time of emergence for a large number of genes - genes which can also initiate diseases. Their studies show for the first time that the majority of these genes were already in existence at the origin of the first cells. The search for further genes, particularly those which are involved in diseases caused by several genetic causes, is thus facilitated. Furthermore, the research results confirm that the basic interconnections are to be found in the function of genes - causing the onset of diseases - can also be found in model organisms (Molecular Biology and Evolution).

The Human Genome Project that deciphered the human genetic code, uncovered thousands of genes that, if mutated, are involved in human genetic diseases. The genomes of many other organisms were deciphered in parallel. This now allows the evolution of these disease associated genes to be systematically studied.

Tomislav Domazet-Loo and Diethard Tautz from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Pln (Germany) have used for this analysis a novel statistical method, "phylostratigraphy" that was developed by Tomislav Domazet-Loo at the Ruđer Boković Institute in Zagreb (Croatia). The method allows the point of origin for any existing gene to be determined by tracing the last common ancestor in which this gene existed. Based on this information, it is then possible to determine the minimum age for any given gene.

Applying this method to disease genes, the scientists from Pln came to surprising findings. The vast majority of these genes trace back to the origin of the first cell. Other large groups emerged more than one billion years ago around the first appearance of multi
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Contact: Professor Dr. Diethard Tautz
tautz@evolbio.mpg.de
49-452-276-3390
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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