Modern Melanesians harbor beneficial DNA from archaic hominins

October 17, 2019

Modern Melanesians harbor beneficial genetic variants that they inherited from archaic Neanderthal and Denisovan hominins, according to a new study. These genes are not found in many other human populations, the study adds. The results suggest that large structural variants introgressed from our archaic ancestors may have played an important role in the adaptation of early modern human populations and that they may represent an under-appreciated source of the genetic variation that remains to be characterized in our modern genomes. As populations of our ancestors migrated out of Africa and into the vast Eurasian continent, they were required to adapt to the wide range of environments they encountered. They also interbred with the archaic hominin ancestors they encountered. However, the role of genetic exchange between archaic hominin and anatomically modern human populations in adaption and human evolution remains elusive. Genetic surveys with single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) have suggested their involvement in archaic introgression and adaptation. However, compared to SNVs, copy number variants (CNVs), a larger form of structural variant, are far more likely to be associated with genotype expression and are subject to stronger selective pressure. Despite this, the adaptive role of introgressed CNVs in human evolution and the genetic variation of modern humans remains unexplored. PingHsun Hsieh performed a genome-wide search for evidence of selective and archaic introgressed CNVs among Melanesian genomes. The Islanders of Melanesia harbor some of the greatest amounts of archaic human ancestry known. Hsieh et al. discovered hominin-shared, stratified CNVs associated with positive selection in the modern Melanesian genomes. Furthermore, the results revealed evidence for adaptive CNVs introgression at chromosomes 16p11.2 and 8p21.3, which were derived from Denisovans and Neanderthals, respectively. The results tentatively suggest that CNV introgression from ancestral hominins may have allowed modern humans to adapt to new environments by providing a source of beneficial genetic variation.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Genetic Variation Articles from Brightsurf:

How genetic variation gives rise to differences in mathematical ability
DNA variation in a gene called ROBO1 is associated with early anatomical differences in a brain region that plays a key role in quantity representation, potentially explaining how genetic variability might shape mathematical performance in children, according to a study published October 22nd in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Michael Skeide of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, and colleagues.

Genetic variation unlikely to influence COVID-19 morbidity and mortality
A comprehensive search of genetic variation databases has revealed no significant differences across populations and ethnic groups in seven genes associated with viral entry of SARS-CoV-2.

Researchers find pronghorn exhibit little genetic variation despite landscape obstacles
While previous research shows landscape features such as major highways restrict the daily and seasonal movements of pronghorn and increase mortality risk, this study found little, if any, evidence that these barriers affect genetic connectivity among Wyoming pronghorn.

gnomAD Consortium releases its first major studies of human genetic variation
For the last eight years, the Genome Aggregation Database (gnomAD) Consortium (and its predecessor, the Exome Aggregation Consortium, or ExAC), has been working with geneticists around the world to compile and study more than 125,000 exomes and 15,000 whole genomes from populations around the world.

Individual genetic variation in immune system may affect severity of COVID-19
Genetic variability in the human immune system may affect susceptibility to, and severity of infection by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus responsible for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Genetic variation not an obstacle to gene drive strategy to control mosquitoes
New research from entomologists at UC Davis clears a potential obstacle to using CRISPR-Cas9 'gene drive' technology to control mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and Zika.

Genetic variation gives mussels a chance to adapt to climate change
Existing genetic variation in natural populations of Mediterranean mussels allows them to adapt to declining pH levels in seawater caused by carbon emissions.

A genetic tug-of-war between the sexes begets variation
In species with sexual reproduction, no two individuals are alike and scientists have long struggled to understand why there is so much genetic variation.

Scientists identify genetic variation linked to severity of ALS
A discovery made several years ago in a lab researching asthma at Wake Forest School of Medicine may now have implications for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease with no known cure and only two FDA-approved drugs to treat its progression and severity.

Genetic variation contributes to individual differences in pleasure
Differences in how our brains respond when we're anticipating a financial reward are due, in part, to genetic differences, according to research with identical and fraternal twins published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Read More: Genetic Variation News and Genetic Variation Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.