Friday, 16 Nov, 2007 Science

The Main Genetic Difference between Humans and Chimpanzees Revealed


In spite of the fact that humans and chimpanzees have almost 99 percent of genes identical, their difference is so great that it lead scientists to question where is the core of the matter.

The study conducted at the University of Toronto Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research compared brain and heart tissue of humans and chimpanzees to uncover the difference. Scientists found that the essence of these differences lie in splicing of the genes to produce a protein.

Benjamin Blencowe, a professor at the University of Toronto Centre with the Banting and Best Department of Medical Research and Department of Molecular Genetics said that while it was quite obvious that humans and chimpanzees differ on many levels, including their behavior and look, the splicing process is what makes a difference.

During the splicing process a number of biochemical reactions occur to produce proteins that is a core of cell's structural and functional elements, resulting in modification of the genetic information. In alternative ways splicing can lead to generation of more than one type of the protein.

As researchers revealed, six to eight of alternative splicing were different in chimpanzees and humans. Some of these splicing events are responsible for such important issues as susceptibility to certain diseases. These findings can be very important in understanding how particular diseases affect one species or another.

The study, will be published in the Journal of Genes and Development.

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