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CBSE scientists contribute to analysis of chimp genome

CBSE scientists contribute to analysis of chimp genome
CBSE scientists contribute to analysis of chimp genome
Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New insights into the genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees, our closest relatives on the tree of life, are emerging from a comparative analysis of the genomes of the two species. Four researchers from CBSE'postdoctoral scholar Katherine Pollard, software developer Kate Rosenbloom, research scientist Jim Kent, and CBSE director David Haussler' are part of an international team of scientists that has just published the first results from this analysis in the September 1 issue of the journal Nature.

"The chimp genome sequence offers an unprecedented opportunity to understand primate evolution and to identify the genetic changes that gave rise to the modern human species. It's our first chance to see which parts of our genome are distinctly human," said Katherine Pollard.

The paper presents a catalog of the genetic differences that have accumulated since the lineages that led to modern humans and chimpanzees diverged from a common ancestor about 6 million years ago. Several regions of the human genome bear the hallmarks of strong natural selection, whereas the corresponding chimpanzee sequences do not. These sequences may hold the most promise for determining human-specific traits such as language.