Genetics Human evolution News

Human genome shrinks again, lower than projected nematode worm

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This time to fewer than 20,000 genes. From The Scientist:

An analysis of proteomic data from seven studies suggests the human genome contains fewer than 20,000 protein-coding genes, 1,700 fewer than previously predicted. The results, published last month (June 16) in Human Molecular Genetics and posted last year on arXiv.org, also show little evidence of protein expression for more evolutionarily recent genes that can only be traced back to primate lineages.

The protein-coding region of the human genome has been shrinking since its discovery. The first sequences published in 2001 predicted 26,000—30,000 genes; a recent evolutionary comparison suggested the number was closer to 20,500. Now, that number might be reduced to approximately 19,000.

“The number of new genes that separate humans from mice [those genes that have evolved since the split from primates] may even be fewer than ten,” study co-author David Juan said in the press release.

Although this work reduces the number of human genes to fewer than those currently predicted in the nematode genome of Caenorhabditis elegans, Valencia said it might be too early to compare humans to worms. “Our work suggests that we will have to redo the calculations for all genomes, not only the human genome,” he said. More.

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Meanwhile, in other news, according to genetic data humans are now apparently 99.55555555* chimpanzee. Absolute proof of this is found in the 1700 protein coders that have been deadheading indefinitely in our genomes, in between bouts of filing grievances and picketing. 😉

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