Saturday, August 31, 2013

Researchers find surprising difference between human and chimp genomes

Old news, but FWIW:

Despite sharing 99 per cent of our DNA with chimpanzees, a certain key genetic process tends to occur at totally different places on human and chimp chromosomes. A study by Oxford statisticians and US and Dutch geneticists, published in Science, compared recombination in humans and chimpanzees and found a surprising difference between the species....

Why these hotspots occur, and what triggers the swapping of DNA at those particular points, is a mystery. One theory was that the DNA code either side of hotspots controlled the activity. However, comparing chimps and humans showed that despite being so genetically similar, the species have totally different recombination hotspots....

'If chimps and humans do not share these recombination hotspots, then it means something other than the surrounding DNA code must be controlling the process of recombination - because the surrounding DNA code in chimps and humans is pretty much identical. This means that recombination is even more mysterious than we already thought: what is controlling it, and why does it occur so often at these particular places?

'The findings also tell us something else important: that the recombination landscape must be evolving extremely quickly. In humans and chimpanzees, the genome as a whole is very similar but the recombination hotspots totally different - so hotspots must be evolving much, much faster than the rest of the genome. That adds extra mystery to what drives these hotspots: why do they evolve so quickly?'

I believe this is the paper in question.

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