The genes that make us human: scientists identify dozens of genes that can be crucial to the evolution of our species
- Researchers used a new computational method to analyze gene activity
- They targeted genes that encode a class of proteins called transcription factors
- Although it thought to play the same roles across different types, it felt that people were unique
Scientists have identified a large number of genes that may have played a key role in the emergence of our species.
A study using a new computational method to predict motif sequences or certain patterns in DNA related to gene activity has discovered that genes that were previously thought to play the same role in many organisms are actually unique to humans.
Researchers say the findings can help explain some of the major differences between humans and chimpanzees, our closest living relatives, by taking into account the expression of hundreds of different genes.
Scientists have identified a large number of genes that may have played a key role in the emergence of our species. Artist & # 39; s impression
In the study published in the journal Nature Genetics, researchers investigated dozens of genes that code for a class of proteins called transcription factors (TFs) that control gene activity by zooming in on features known as motives.
& # 39; Even among closely related species, there is a non-negligible portion of TF & # 39; s likely to bind new sequences & # 39 ;, said Sam Lambert, who led the study while studying at the University of Toronto.
& # 39; This means that they are likely to have new functions by regulating different genes, which can be important for species differences. & # 39;
The team developed a new software to look for structural similarities between the binding regions that target the TFs in the DNA, and their ability to bind to the same or different DNA motifs.
Previous studies that tried this did so in a much broader way, comparing entire regions. The new research focused on only a fraction at a time for a more accurate picture.
And by looking at the differences in the position of the major amino acids, the team discovered that many human TFs recognize different sequences than their counterparts in other animals.
While chimpanzees and humans share 99 percent of their genomes, the researchers say that only tens of these TFs can lead to significant differences in gene expression.
A study with a new computational method to predict motif sequences, or certain patterns in DNA related to gene activity, has discovered that genes that were previously thought to play the same role in many organisms are actually unique to humans
& # 39; We think that these molecular differences can cause some of the differences between chimpanzees and humans & # 39 ;, Lambert said.
The findings challenge previous studies that found that almost all human and fruit fly TFs bind to the same motif sequences, the researchers note.
& # 39; There is an idea that has continued, namely that the TF & # 39; s bind almost identical motifs between humans and fruit flies & # 39 ;, said professor Timothy Hughes of the Donnelly Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Research.
& # 39; And although there are many examples in which these proteins are functionally conserved, this is certainly not to the extent that it is accepted. & # 39;
WHEN HAVE HUMAN FORWARD FIRST BEAUTIFUL?
The timeline of human evolution can be traced back millions of years. Experts estimate that the family tree goes as follows:
55 million years ago – First primitive primates evolve
15 million years ago – Hominidae (great apes) evolve from the ancestors of the gibbon
7 million years ago – First gorillas evolve. Chimpanzee and human descent later diverge
A recreation of a Neanderthal is shown
5.5 million years ago – Ardipithecus, early & # 39; proto-human & # 39; stock features with chimpanzees and gorillas & # 39; s
4 million years ago – Monkeys like early humans, the Australopithecines appeared. They had brains no bigger than those of a chimpanzee, but other, more human traits
3.9-2.9 million years ago – Australoipithecus afarensis lived in Africa.
2.7 million years ago – Paranthropus, lived in forests and had huge jaws to chew
2.6 million years ago – Hand axes become the first major technological innovation
2.3 million years ago – Homo habilis first thought to have appeared in Africa
1.85 million years ago – The first & # 39; modern & # 39; hand appears
1.8 million years ago – Homo ergaster begins to appear in fossil record
800,000 years ago – Early people control fire and create fireplaces. The size of the brain is increasing rapidly
400,000 years agO – Neanderthals appear for the first time and spread across Europe and Asia
300,000 to 200,000 years ago – Homo sapiens – modern people – appear in Africa
50,000 to 40,000 years ago – Modern people reach Europe
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