Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Human-chimp genetic differences: New insights into why humans are more susceptible to cancer and other diseases

Date:
August 23, 2012
Source:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Summary:
Ninety-six percent of a chimpanzee's genome is the same as a human's. It's the other 4 percent, and the vast differences, that has intrigued researchers. For instance, why do humans have a high risk of cancer, even though chimps rarely develop the disease? In a new study, scientists have looked at brain samples of each species. They found that differences in certain DNA modifications, called methylation, may contribute to phenotypic changes. The results also hint that DNA methylation plays an important role for some disease-related phenotypes in humans, including cancer and autism.

Chimpanzee.
Credit: © David DEMEYERE / Fotolia

Ninety-six percent of a chimpanzee's genome is the same as a human's. It's the other 4 percent, and the vast differences, that pique the interest of Georgia Tech's Soojin Yi. For instance, why do humans have a high risk of cancer, even though chimps rarely develop the disease?

Related Articles


In research published in September's American Journal of Human Genetics, Yi looked at brain samples of each species. She found that differences in certain DNA modifications, called methylation, may contribute to phenotypic changes. The results also hint that DNA methylation plays an important role for some disease-related phenotypes in humans, including cancer and autism.

"Our study indicates that certain human diseases may have evolutionary epigenetic origins," says Yi, a faculty member in the School of Biology. "Such findings, in the long term, may help to develop better therapeutic targets or means for some human diseases. "

DNA methylation modifies gene expression but doesn't change a cell's genetic information. To understand how it differs between the two species, Yi and her research team generated genome-wide methylation maps of the prefrontal cortex of multiple humans and chimps. They found hundreds of genes that exhibit significantly lower levels of methylation in the human brain than in the chimpanzee brain. Most of them were promoters involved with protein binding and cellular metabolic processes.

"This list of genes includes disproportionately high numbers of those related to diseases," said Yi. "They are linked to autism, neural-tube defects and alcohol and other chemical dependencies. This suggests that methylation differences between the species might have significant functional consequences. They also might be linked to the evolution of our vulnerability to certain diseases, including cancer."

Yi, graduate student Jia Zeng and postdoctoral researcher Brendan Hunt worked with a team of researchers from Emory University and UCLA. The Yerkes National Primate Research Center provided the animal samples used in the study. It was also funded by the Georgia Tech Fund for Innovation in Research and Education (GT-FIRE) and National Science Foundation grants (MCB-0950896 and BCS-0751481).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jia Zeng, Genevieve Konopka, Brendan G. Hunt, Todd M. Preuss, Dan Geschwind, Soojin V. Yi. Divergent Whole-Genome Methylation Maps of Human and Chimpanzee Brains Reveal Epigenetic Basis of Human Regulatory Evolution. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2012.07.024

Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute of Technology. "Human-chimp genetic differences: New insights into why humans are more susceptible to cancer and other diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823142735.htm>.
Georgia Institute of Technology. (2012, August 23). Human-chimp genetic differences: New insights into why humans are more susceptible to cancer and other diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 6, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823142735.htm
Georgia Institute of Technology. "Human-chimp genetic differences: New insights into why humans are more susceptible to cancer and other diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120823142735.htm (accessed March 6, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, March 6, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Just A Half-Hour Of Lost Sleep Could Lead To Weight Gain

Just A Half-Hour Of Lost Sleep Could Lead To Weight Gain

Newsy (Mar. 6, 2015) — A new study found losing just half an hour of sleep could make you gain weight. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Suicide Rates Up For Young Women In U.S.

Suicide Rates Up For Young Women In U.S.

Newsy (Mar. 6, 2015) — According to a report from the CDC, suicide rates among young women increased from 1994 to 2012 while rates among young men have decreased. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — Bupa is hoping to expand in India&apos;s fast-growing health insurance market, once a rule change on foreign investment is implemented. The British private healthcare group&apos;s CEO tells Grace Pascoe why it&apos;s so keen on the new opportunity. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Releases Last Ebola Patient, But Threat Remains

Liberia Releases Last Ebola Patient, But Threat Remains

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) — Liberia&apos;s last Ebola patient has been released, and the country hasn&apos;t recorded a new case in a week. However, fears of another outbreak still exist. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins