You’ve heard that Neanderthal DNA lives on in the genes of many modern humans — now there’s evidence that it helped our early ancestors adapt to life beyond the tropics and subtropics of Africa.
As gene sequencing becomes increasingly sophisticated, scientists have been able to prove that early modern humans traveling out of Africa to Europe and Asia interbred with Neanderthals already established in those regions. As a result, most non-African humans today have at least some Neanderthal ge
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Scientists at the University of Washington’s Department of Genome Sciences, report that they can zero in on remnant Neanderthal DNA in modern humans, identifying specific regions in our genome where that ancient DNA resides, and they can do this even without access to actual Neanderthal DNA samples from fossilized bones. The study published this week[…]
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Publication Date: 2013 Oct 23 PMID: 24152549
Authors: Li, Z. – Bammann, H. – Li, M. – Liang, H. – Yan, Z. – Phoebe Chen, Y. P. – Zhao, M. – Khaitovich, P.
Adenosine-to-inosine (A-to-I) substitutions are the most common type of RNA editing in mammals. A-to-I RNA editing is particularly widespread in the brain and is known to play important roles in neuronal functions. In this study we investigated RNA-editing changes during human brain development and maturation, as well as evolutionary conservation of RNA-editing patterns across primates. We used high-throughput transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) to quantify the RNA-editing levels and assess ontogenetic dynamics of RNA editing at more than 8000 previously annotated exonic A-to-I RNA-editing sites in two brain regions-prefrontal cortex and cerebellum-of humans, chimpanzees, and rhesus macaques. We observed substantial conservation of RNA-editing levels between the brain regions, as well as among the three primate species. Evolutionary changes in RNA editing were nonetheless evident, with 40% of the annotated editing sites studied showing divergent editing levels among the three species and 16.5% of sites displaying statistically significant human-specific editing patterns. Across lifespan, we observed an increase of the RNA-editing level with advanced age in both brain regions of all three primate species.
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Neanderthal viruses dating back 500,000 years has been discovered in modern human DNA when scientists studied links between ‘endogenous retroviruses’, which are hard-wired into DNA, and modern diseases such as AIDs and cancer.
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