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Analysis of rhesus monkey genome uncovers genetic differences with humans, chimps

n determining differences among primate species. These include genes involved in hair formation, immune response, membrane proteins and sperm-egg fusion. Many of these genes are located in areas of the primate genome that have been subject to duplication, indicating that having an extra copy of a gene may enable it to evolve more rapidly and that small duplications are a key feature of primate evolution.

The analysis also revealed a few instances in which whole families of genes were radically different in the rhesus, containing more copies of certain genes than in the chimp or human. These gene families include important immune related genes, as well as genes with functions not yet fully known.

In addition to comparing the rhesus with the chimp and human genomes, the group also studied genetic variation in macaque populations, and developed a set of 'single nucleotide polymorphisms' or SNPs (single base DNA differences) that can be used for future analysis of inheritance of biomedically important traits in rhesus. The rhesus genomic DNA samples used for these studies were contributed by the California NPRC, Oregon NPRC, Southwest NPRC and Yerkes NPRC. This advance in macaque genetics will enhance the use of macaques for the study of genetic diseases of man.


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Source:NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute


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