Humans, Chimpanzees and Monkeys Share DNA, Not Gene Regulation
Humans share over 90% of their DNA with their primate cousins. The expression or activity patterns of genes differ across species in ways that help explain each species’ distinct biology and behavior. DNA factors that contribute to the differences were described at the American Society of Human Genetics 2012 meeting in a presentation by Yoav Gilad, associate professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago.
Dr. Gilad reported that up to 40% of the differences in the expression or activity patterns of genes between humans, chimpanzees and rhesus monkeys can be explained by regulatory mechanisms that determine whether and how a gene’s recipe for a protein is transcribed to the RNA molecule that carries the recipe instructions to the sites in cells where proteins are manufactured. In addition to improving scientific understanding of the uniqueness of humans, studies such as the investigation conducted by Dr. Gilad and colleagues could have relevance to human health and disease.