Navigation Links
Can our genes tell the story of our divergence?

Since humans and chimpanzees forged separate evolutionary paths some 5 million to 6 million years ago, we shed our hirsute coat and heavy brow, mastered bipedal locomotion, and acquired a knack for abstract thought while our next of kin learned to use tools, and developed the skills to construct tree-bound nests high above the forest floor. We differ by just a tad over 1% at the DNA sequence level, yet scientists predict that both species should harbor genetic footprints of our divergence ?the subject of a recent study in the premier open-access journal PLoS Biology.

One way to find such genetic signatures is to search for genes that reveal signs of positive natural selection. The assumption is that genes touched by positive selection will show more functionally significant molecular changes than unaffected regions. In the new study, Rasmus Nielsen, Michele Cargill, and their colleagues compared 13,731 genes in humans to their equivalents in chimps to find positively selected genes in both species.

Nielsen et al. identified many genes involved in sensory perception, as well as spermatogenesis, but found the strongest evidence for positive selection in genes related to immune defense. Immunity genes, the authors explain, were likely targeted throughout mammalian evolution, while the perception and olfactory genes probably reflect primate-specific adaptations.

Nielsen et al. also found a "surprising number" of tumor-suppressor and apoptosis genes. The factors behind this pattern are unclear, but the authors suggest that studying the genes' other functions, in immunity or spermatogenesis, may offer clues to selective pressures. It could be, for example, that there is a battle between the interests of sperm cells (favoring genetic changes that increase cell number and decrease cell death), and the need for the organism to avoid cancer.

Future studies will have to determine whether these explanations - of an evolutionary arms race - prove p lausible. We're a long way from understanding why we're so different from our closest primate cousins, but this study provides plenty of tools, and hypotheses, to mine the tiny differences in our DNA for more clues.

###

Citation: Nielsen R, Bustamante C, Clark AG, Glanowski S, Sackton TB, et al. (2005) A scan for positively selected genes in the genomes of humans and chimpanzees. PLoS Biol 3(6): e170.


'"/>

Source:Public Library of Science


Related biology news :

1. Newly-discovered class of genes determines ?and restricts ?stem cell fate
2. Inexpensive, mass-produced genes core of synthetic biology advances at UH
3. First atlas of key brain genes could speed research on cancer, neurological diseases
4. U-M scientists find genes that control growth of common skin cancer
5. Researchers find missing genes of ancient organism
6. Scientists document complex genomic events leading to the birth of new genes
7. Genrate: a generative model that finds and scores new genes and exons in genomic microarray data
8. Advances in the characterisation of the oyster mushroom genes
9. Researchers find new genes necessary to make embryo
10. Protein helps regulate the genes of embryonic stem cells
11. Compounds in plastic packaging act as environmental estrogens altering breast genes
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:4/17/2017)... April 17, 2017 NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... the filing of its 2016 Annual Report on Form 10-K on ... ... is available in the Investor Relations section of the Company,s website ... SEC,s website at http://www.sec.gov . 2016 Year Highlights: ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... Apr. 11, 2017 Research and Markets has ... report to their offering. ... The global eye tracking market to grow at a CAGR of ... Eye Tracking Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based on an in-depth ... market landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. The ...
(Date:4/5/2017)...  The Allen Institute for Cell Science today announces ... portal and dynamic digital window into the human cell. ... application of deep learning to create predictive models of ... a growing suite of powerful tools. The Allen Cell ... publicly available resources created and shared by the Allen ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/21/2017)... ... 2017 , ... MacArthur Sotheby’s International Realty, a luxury real ... the first Delos Wellness Signature™ residence in Hawaii is on the market for ... listing agent Kelly Allen, R(S) of Carvill Sotheby’s International Realty located on Oahu, ...
(Date:8/21/2017)... ... August 21, 2017 , ... Baltimore biotech firm, PathSensors, Inc., ... bring its proprietary CANARY pathogen detection technology and high throughput testing solutions to ... purchased an undisclosed number of PathSensors’ Zephyr pathogen detection instruments and will act ...
(Date:8/21/2017)... , ... August 21, 2017 , ... ... two speakers for this two-part educational webinar, in which attendees will learn about ... associated protein factor composition. Along with an overview of the development and validation ...
(Date:8/18/2017)... ... August 18, 2017 , ... ... will feature Federal Hybrids, Inc. in an upcoming episode, scheduled to broadcast fourth ... Farmer will explore Federal Hybrids, the independent, family-owned seed company. Educating audiences about ...
Breaking Biology Technology: