Ne­an­derthal genes found in East Asian pop­u­la­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By ELIANA KIR­SHEN­BLAT in New York elianakir­shen­blat@chi­nadai­

A por­tion of Ne­an­derthal DNA has been found in a high per­cent­age of East Asians, ac­cord­ing to a study pub­lished in the jour­nal Molec­u­lar Biology and Evo­lu­tion.

About 66 per­cent of all South­ern Chi­nese con­tain genes that can be traced back to Ne­an­derthals, ac­cord­ing to the re­sults of the study. This re­gion of DNA in­cludes some 18 genes from the Ne­an­derthal genome in­clud­ing one gene, called HYAL2, which is re­lated to UV light (sun­light) adap­ta­tion.

The DNA seg­ment, or re­gion of DNA, was found to be re­lated to cells’ re­ac­tion to sun­light and could play a role in how hu­mans have adapted to sun­light. The study also con­firms that the Ne­an­derthal traits un­der­went pos­i­tive se­lec­tion, which is how ad­van­ta­geous traits be­comes es­tab­lished in a pop­u­la­tion.

The find­ings come dur­ing a time of huge in­ter­est in com­par­a­tive evo­lu­tion be­ing used to trace ge­netic an­ces­try. On Dec 18, the most com­plete se­quence of Ne­an­derthal DNA was pub­lished by a team of in­ter­na­tional re­searchers in the jour­nal Na­ture. The study was com­pleted with DNA ex­tracted from a 50,000 year old toe bone that be­longed to a Ne­an­derthal woman.

Such a huge ge­netic li­brary has the po­ten­tial to de­fine traits that set mod­ern hu­mans apart from their an­cient an­ces­tors, al­low­ing for the most com­plete di­rect com­par­i­son be­tween the two groups.

The genome shows that Ne­an­derthals and hu­mans lived side by side for a time and in­ter­bred. Se­nior au­thor Qil­iang Ding from Fu­dan Univer­sity in Shang­hai said: “We are try­ing to an­swer whether Ne­an­derthals had a sys­tem­atic con­tri­bu­tion to mod­ern hu­mans that in­creased our adap­ta­tions to the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment. “

What the re­searchers found through ex­am­i­na­tion of the ar­chaic hu­man genomes re­veal a clear in­fil­tra­tion of Ne­an­derthal genes into the mod­ern Eurasian gene pool. Not only that, but the study shows those Ne­an­derthal traits un­der­went pos­i­tive se­lec­tion mean­ing the Ne­an­derthal genes likely give some ben­e­fit to mod­ern hu­mans.

With the newly up­dated ge­netic data­base, re­searchers can com­pare and study por­tions of an­cient DNA that has sur­vived in mod­ern hu­mans. The hope of re­searchers is to show how much of an im­pact this has had on hu­man de­vel­op­ment.

Though Ding and his team con­firmed that this ge­netic re­gion came from Ne­an­derthals and is un­der pos­i­tive se­lec­tion, there is more work to be done. The au­thors would still like to ex­per­i­men­tally study all the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the re­gion.

“Other re­ports have found this re­gion is re­lated to keloid in Ja­panese and prostate can­cer risk in His­pan­ics. We hope fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion could be car­ried out to fo­cus on the func­tion of this re­gion,” he wrote.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.