Saturday, August 03, 2002

RETROVIRUSES IMPLICATED IN CHIMPANZEE-HUMAN EVOLUTIONARY DIVERGENCE

Source: University Of Georgia (http://www.uga.edu/)
Date: Posted 8/2/2002
Retroviruses Shows That Human-Specific Variety Developed When Humans, Chimps Diverged

Scientists in the past decade have discovered that remnants of ancient germ line infections called human endogenous retroviruses make up a substantial part of the human genome. Once thought to be merely "junk" DNA and inactive, many of these elements, in fact, perform functions in human cells.

Now, a new study by John McDonald of the University of Georgia and King Jordan at the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Institutes of Health, suggests for the first time that a burst of transpositional activity occurred at the same time humans and chimps are believed to have diverged from a common ancestor - 6 million years ago. These new results implicate retroelements, a particular type of transposable elements that are abundant in the human genome, in the actual shift from more rudimentary primates to modern human beings....