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Evolution of human genome's 'guardian' gives people unique protections from DNA damage
Date:1/16/2008

onary changes in their function. The 14 species represented an estimated 500 million years of evolutionary separation, helping investigators determine how the function of p53 response elements was conserved or changed as different species developed. Dr. Jegga said researchers were surprised to find the acquisition of functional response for certain genes involved in DNA metabolism or repair to be mostly unique in humans. While the functional ability of some genes is shared with chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys, researchers said DNA metabolism and repair function it is not shared at all with rodents.

In humans, when DNA damage is detected, the p53 network seems to have gained additional capabilities that allow it to slow cell growth, initiate repairs or, if needed, apoptotic cell death. Apoptotic, or programmed cell death capability in the p53 network, is thought to be evolutionarily conserved throughout the development of vertebrate species and was probably established after the divergence of vertebrates and non-vertebrates. DNA metabolism and repair capabilities controlled by p53 may have emerged more recently in evolutionary history to create primate-specific response characteristics, the researchers explained.

The fact that DNA metabolism and repair genes have undergone this kind of evolution in humans may reflect an increased need for coordinated control of molecular repair activities during DNA replication to allow for the maintenance of genomic integrity during complex differentiation, growth, and aging, said Bruce Aronow, Ph.D., co-director of Computational Medicine at Cincinnati Childrens and a study co-author.

That different strategies to guard our chromosome structures and DNA sequences against damage are subject to evolutionary adaptation is also suggested by other knowledge we have, Dr. Aronow explained. For example, compared to rodents humans have much shorter telomeres, which are regions of highly repetitive DNA at the end of
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Contact: Nick Miller
513-803-6035
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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