A computational survey of the human genome has identified more than 500 human-specific genomic deletions that remove sequences that are highly conserved between chimpanzees and other animals. These are genomic changes that are likely to have contributed to unique features of human biology. Most of the deleted sequences are located in the non-coding regions of the genome. The human deletions are enriched near genes involved in neural development and steroid hormone signalling, consistent with previous suggestions that regulatory changes near key developmental control genes may have important roles in human evolution. Specific examples of human-specific deletions include one that affects penile anatomy and another relating to brain size.
- Human-specific loss of regulatory DNA and the evolution of human-specific traits (Letter p216, doi: 10.1038/nature09774)
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