Information ‘Deleted’ From The Human Genome May Be What Made Us Human

A new study led by Yale University and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has discovered that information ‘deleted’ from the human genome may be what made us human.

Discovering our origins requires deciphering the chemical and genetic differences that distinguish humans from our closest primate relatives. Sequence loss has received less attention, but changes in conserved evolutionary regions rich in biological function are more likely to have phenotypic effects.

A new study led by Yale University and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard academics has discovered that the human genome, which is missing in comparison to the genomes of other primates, may have been as important to the evolution of humanity as what has been added during our evolutionary history.

The research, released on April 28 in the journal Science, closes a significant knowledge gap about the evolution of the human genome. 

Scientists have been able to identify additions that are unique to the human genome, such as a gene that was essential for humans to develop speech, thanks to a revolution in the ability to collect data from genomes of other species. More focus, however, has been placed on what the human genome still needs to include.

Researchers demonstrated that losing around 10,000 bits of genetic information over our evolutionary history separates humans from chimpanzees, our closest ape relative, using an even deeper genomic dive into primate DNA. 

Some of those “deleted” genetic informational fragments are closely related to genes involved in neuronal and cognitive processes, including one linked to the development of brain cells. The Yale researchers discovered that these 10,000 missing bits of DNA are present in all humans.

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