This receptor, which is abbreviated as "HLA-DRaDPb", consists of the combination of subunits of already known receptors. Scientists compared the gene sequence, which encodes the discovered receptor, with data bases and determined that an estimated two-thirds of Europeans carry this important structure. Even Prof. Koch carries the blueprint for this "spy", as one of his students found out by sequencing his DNA. Scientists were nonetheless surprised to learn that the gene sequence required for this receptor is rare in people in southern Africa, the region known as the cradle of mankind. "When early man, the ancestor of today's humans, left Africa and migrated a few hundred thousand years ago to Europe, he did not yet have this receptor," says Prof. Koch.
Modern Man Owes Receptor to Neanderthals
Prof. Dr. Svante Pbo from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig played a leading role in 2010 in sequencing and presenting the Neanderthal genome. So, scientists examined whether Neanderthals as an example of early men had the key gene sequence which contains the blueprint for the receptor. Dr. Sebastian Temme, who conducted a major part of the experimental work, compiled, together with colleagues from Dsseldorf, the sequence of the Neanderthal genome, from small fragments obtained from the Neanderthal data base. "The identified Neanderthal gene sequence is almost identical with that of modern humans," concludes Prof. Koch.
Neanderthals probably lived many hundreds of thousands of years in Europe during which time they developed the HLA receptor that provided them with immunity against many pathogens. This means that different to our ancestors from Africa, the Neanderthals which were
|Contact: Dr. Norbert Koch|
University of Bonn