Homo sapiens, Homo neanderthalensis and the Denisova specimen: New insights on their evolutionary histories using whole-genome comparisons.
ABSTRACT: After a brief review of the most recent findings in the study of human evolution, an extensive comparison of the complete genomes of our nearest relative, the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), of extant Homo sapiens, archaic Homo neanderthalensis and the Denisova specimen were made. The focus was on non-synonymous mutations, which consequently had an impact on protein levels and these changes were classified according to degree of effect. A total of 10,447 non-synonymous substitutions were found in which the derived allele is fixed or nearly fixed in humans as compared to chimpanzee. Their most frequent location was on chromosome 21. Their presence was then searched in the two archaic genomes. Mutations in 381 genes would imply radical amino acid changes, with a fraction of these related to olfaction and other important physiological processes. Eight new alleles were identified in the Neanderthal and/or Denisova genetic pools. Four others, possibly affecting cognition, occured both in the sapiens and two other archaic genomes. The selective sweep that gave rise to Homo sapiens could, therefore, have initiated before the modern/archaic human divergence.
Project description:As the evolution of miRNA genes has been found to be one of the important factors in formation of the modern type of man, we performed a comparative analysis of the evolution of miRNA genes in two archaic hominines, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens denisova, and elucidated the expression of their target mRNAs in bain.A comparative analysis of the genomes of primates, including species in the genus Homo, identified a group of miRNA genes having fixed substitutions with important implications for the evolution of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens denisova. The mRNAs targeted by miRNAs with mutations specific for Homo sapiens denisova exhibited enhanced expression during postnatal brain development in modern humans. By contrast, the expression of mRNAs targeted by miRNAs bearing variations specific for Homo sapiens neanderthalensis was shown to be enhanced in prenatal brain development.Our results highlight the importance of changes in miRNA gene sequences in the course of Homo sapiens denisova and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis evolution. The genetic alterations of miRNAs regulating the spatiotemporal expression of multiple genes in the prenatal and postnatal brain may contribute to the progressive evolution of brain function, which is consistent with the observations of fine technical and typological properties of tools and decorative items reported from archaeological Denisovan sites. The data also suggest that differential spatial-temporal regulation of gene products promoted by the subspecies-specific mutations in the miRNA genes might have occurred in the brains of Homo sapiens denisova and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, potentially contributing to the cultural differences between these two archaic hominines.
Project description:Environment parameters, diet and genetic factors interact to shape tooth morphostructure. In the human lineage, archaic and modern hominins show differences in dental traits, including enamel thickness, but variability also exists among living populations. Several polymorphisms, in particular in the non-collagenous extracellular matrix proteins of the tooth hard tissues, like enamelin, are involved in dental structure variation and defects and may be associated with dental disorders or susceptibility to caries. To gain insights into the relationships between tooth protein polymorphisms and dental structural morphology and defects, we searched for non-synonymous polymorphisms in tooth proteins from Neanderthal and Denisova hominins. The objective was to identify archaic-specific missense variants that may explain the dental morphostructural variability between extinct and modern humans, and to explore their putative impact on present-day dental phenotypes. Thirteen non-collagenous extracellular matrix proteins specific to hard dental tissues have been selected, searched in the publicly available sequence databases of Neanderthal and Denisova individuals and compared with modern human genome data. A total of 16 non-synonymous polymorphisms were identified in 6 proteins (ameloblastin, amelotin, cementum protein 1, dentin matrix acidic phosphoprotein 1, enamelin and matrix Gla protein). Most of them are encoded by dentin and enamel genes located on chromosome 4, previously reported to show signs of archaic introgression within Africa. Among the variants shared with modern humans, two are ancestral (common with apes) and one is the derived enamelin major variant, T648I (rs7671281), associated with a thinner enamel and specific to the Homo lineage. All the others are specific to Neanderthals and Denisova, and are found at a very low frequency in modern Africans or East and South Asians, suggesting that they may be related to particular dental traits or disease susceptibility in these populations. This modern regional distribution of archaic dental polymorphisms may reflect persistence of archaic variants in some populations and may contribute in part to the geographic dental variations described in modern humans.
Project description:Unique among animals, humans eat a diet rich in cooked and nonthermally processed food. The ancestors of modern humans who invented food processing (including cooking) gained critical advantages in survival and fitness through increased caloric intake. However, the time and manner in which food processing became biologically significant are uncertain. Here, we assess the inferred evolutionary consequences of food processing in the human lineage by applying a Bayesian phylogenetic outlier test to a comparative dataset of feeding time in humans and nonhuman primates. We find that modern humans spend an order of magnitude less time feeding than predicted by phylogeny and body mass (4.7% vs. predicted 48% of daily activity). This result suggests that a substantial evolutionary rate change in feeding time occurred along the human branch after the human-chimpanzee split. Along this same branch, Homo erectus shows a marked reduction in molar size that is followed by a gradual, although erratic, decline in H. sapiens. We show that reduction in molar size in early Homo (H. habilis and H. rudolfensis) is explicable by phylogeny and body size alone. By contrast, the change in molar size to H. erectus, H. neanderthalensis, and H. sapiens cannot be explained by the rate of craniodental and body size evolution. Together, our results indicate that the behaviorally driven adaptations of food processing (reduced feeding time and molar size) originated after the evolution of Homo but before or concurrent with the evolution of H. erectus, which was around 1.9 Mya.
Project description:What do functionally important DNA sites, those scrutinized and shaped by natural selection, tell us about the place of humans in evolution? Here we compare approximately 90 kb of coding DNA nucleotide sequence from 97 human genes to their sequenced chimpanzee counterparts and to available sequenced gorilla, orangutan, and Old World monkey counterparts, and, on a more limited basis, to mouse. The nonsynonymous changes (functionally important), like synonymous changes (functionally much less important), show chimpanzees and humans to be most closely related, sharing 99.4% identity at nonsynonymous sites and 98.4% at synonymous sites. On a time scale, the coding DNA divergencies separate the human-chimpanzee clade from the gorilla clade at between 6 and 7 million years ago and place the most recent common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees at between 5 and 6 million years ago. The evolutionary rate of coding DNA in the catarrhine clade (Old World monkey and ape, including human) is much slower than in the lineage to mouse. Among the genes examined, 30 show evidence of positive selection during descent of catarrhines. Nonsynonymous substitutions by themselves, in this subset of positively selected genes, group humans and chimpanzees closest to each other and have chimpanzees diverge about as much from the common human-chimpanzee ancestor as humans do. This functional DNA evidence supports two previously offered taxonomic proposals: family Hominidae should include all extant apes; and genus Homo should include three extant species and two subgenera, Homo (Homo) sapiens (humankind), Homo (Pan) troglodytes (common chimpanzee), and Homo (Pan) paniscus (bonobo chimpanzee).
Project description:Genetic differences that specify unique aspects of human evolution have typically been identified by comparative analyses between the genomes of humans and closely related primates, including more recently the genomes of archaic hominins. Not all regions of the genome, however, are equally amenable to such study. Recurrent copy number variation (CNV) at chromosome 16p11.2 accounts for approximately 1% of cases of autism and is mediated by a complex set of segmental duplications, many of which arose recently during human evolution. Here we reconstruct the evolutionary history of the locus and identify bolA family member 2 (BOLA2) as a gene duplicated exclusively in Homo sapiens. We estimate that a 95-kilobase-pair segment containing BOLA2 duplicated across the critical region approximately 282 thousand years ago (ka), one of the latest among a series of genomic changes that dramatically restructured the locus during hominid evolution. All humans examined carried one or more copies of the duplication, which nearly fixed early in the human lineage--a pattern unlikely to have arisen so rapidly in the absence of selection (P?<?0.0097). We show that the duplication of BOLA2 led to a novel, human-specific in-frame fusion transcript and that BOLA2 copy number correlates with both RNA expression (r?=?0.36) and protein level (r?=?0.65), with the greatest expression difference between human and chimpanzee in experimentally derived stem cells. Analyses of 152 patients carrying a chromosome 16p11. rearrangement show that more than 96% of breakpoints occur within the H. sapiens-specific duplication. In summary, the duplicative transposition of BOLA2 at the root of the H. sapiens lineage about 282?ka simultaneously increased copy number of a gene associated with iron homeostasis and predisposed our species to recurrent rearrangements associated with disease.
Project description:Using DNA extracted from a finger bone found in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia, we have sequenced the genome of an archaic hominin to about 1.9-fold coverage. This individual is from a group that shares a common origin with Neanderthals. This population was not involved in the putative gene flow from Neanderthals into Eurasians; however, the data suggest that it contributed 4-6% of its genetic material to the genomes of present-day Melanesians. We designate this hominin population 'Denisovans' and suggest that it may have been widespread in Asia during the Late Pleistocene epoch. A tooth found in Denisova Cave carries a mitochondrial genome highly similar to that of the finger bone. This tooth shares no derived morphological features with Neanderthals or modern humans, further indicating that Denisovans have an evolutionary history distinct from Neanderthals and modern humans.
Project description:At the center of the debate on the emergence of modern humans and their spread throughout the globe is the question of whether archaic Homo lineages contributed to the modern human gene pool, and more importantly, whether such contributions impacted the evolutionary adaptation of our species. A major obstacle to answering this question is that low levels of admixture with archaic lineages are not expected to leave extensive traces in the modern human gene pool because of genetic drift. Loci that have undergone strong positive selection, however, offer a unique opportunity to identify low-level admixture with archaic lineages, provided that the introgressed archaic allele has risen to high frequency under positive selection. The gene microcephalin (MCPH1) regulates brain size during development and has experienced positive selection in the lineage leading to Homo sapiens. Within modern humans, a group of closely related haplotypes at this locus, known as haplogroup D, rose from a single copy approximately 37,000 years ago and swept to exceptionally high frequency (approximately 70% worldwide today) because of positive selection. Here, we examine the origin of haplogroup D. By using the interhaplogroup divergence test, we show that haplogroup D likely originated from a lineage separated from modern humans approximately 1.1 million years ago and introgressed into humans by approximately 37,000 years ago. This finding supports the possibility of admixture between modern humans and archaic Homo populations (Neanderthals being one possibility). Furthermore, it buttresses the important notion that, through such adminture, our species has benefited evolutionarily by gaining new advantageous alleles. The interhaplogroup divergence test developed here may be broadly applicable to the detection of introgression at other loci in the human genome or in genomes of other species.
Project description:It has recently been shown that ancestors of New Guineans and Bougainville Islanders have inherited a proportion of their ancestry from Denisovans, an archaic hominin group from Siberia. However, only a sparse sampling of populations from Southeast Asia and Oceania were analyzed. Here, we quantify Denisova admixture in 33 additional populations from Asia and Oceania. Aboriginal Australians, Near Oceanians, Polynesians, Fijians, east Indonesians, and Mamanwa (a "Negrito" group from the Philippines) have all inherited genetic material from Denisovans, but mainland East Asians, western Indonesians, Jehai (a Negrito group from Malaysia), and Onge (a Negrito group from the Andaman Islands) have not. These results indicate that Denisova gene flow occurred into the common ancestors of New Guineans, Australians, and Mamanwa but not into the ancestors of the Jehai and Onge and suggest that relatives of present-day East Asians were not in Southeast Asia when the Denisova gene flow occurred. Our finding that descendants of the earliest inhabitants of Southeast Asia do not all harbor Denisova admixture is inconsistent with a history in which the Denisova interbreeding occurred in mainland Asia and then spread over Southeast Asia, leading to all its earliest modern human inhabitants. Instead, the data can be most parsimoniously explained if the Denisova gene flow occurred in Southeast Asia itself. Thus, archaic Denisovans must have lived over an extraordinarily broad geographic and ecological range, from Siberia to tropical Asia.
Project description:Blood group systems were the first phenotypic markers used in anthropology to decipher the origin of populations, their migratory movements, and their admixture. The recent emergence of new technologies based on the decoding of nucleic acids from an individual's entire genome has relegated them to their primary application, blood transfusion. Thus, despite the finer mapping of the modern human genome in relation to Neanderthal and Denisova populations, little is known about red cell blood groups in these archaic populations. Here we analyze the available high-quality sequences of three Neanderthals and one Denisovan individuals for 7 blood group systems that are used today in transfusion (ABO including H/Se, Rh (Rhesus), Kell, Duffy, Kidd, MNS, Diego). We show that Neanderthal and Denisova were polymorphic for ABO and shared blood group alleles recurrent in modern Sub-Saharan populations. Furthermore, we found ABO-related alleles currently preventing from viral gut infection and Neanderthal RHD and RHCE alleles nowadays associated with a high risk of hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn. Such a common blood group pattern across time and space is coherent with a Neanderthal population of low genetic diversity exposed to low reproductive success and with their inevitable demise. Lastly, we connect a Neanderthal RHD allele to two present-day Aboriginal Australian and Papuan, suggesting that a segment of archaic genome was introgressed in this gene in non-Eurasian populations. While contributing to both the origin and late evolutionary history of Neanderthal and Denisova, our results further illustrate that blood group systems are a relevant piece of the puzzle helping to decipher it.
Project description:Hominin evolution is characterized by adaptive solutions often rooted in behavioral and cognitive changes. If balancing selection had an important and long-lasting impact on the evolution of these traits, it can be hypothesized that genes associated with them should carry an excess of shared polymorphisms (trans- SNPs) across recent Homo species. In this study, we investigate the role of balancing selection in human evolution using available exomes from modern (Homo sapiens) and archaic humans (H. neanderthalensis and Denisovan) for an excess of trans-SNP in two gene sets: one associated with the immune system (IMMS) and another one with behavioral system (BEHS). We identified a significant excess of trans-SNPs in IMMS (N=547), of which six of these located within genes previously associated with schizophrenia. No excess of trans-SNPs was found in BEHS, but five genes in this system harbor potential signals for balancing selection and are associated with psychiatric or neurodevelopmental disorders. Our approach evidenced recent Homo trans-SNPs that have been previously implicated in psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia, suggesting that a genetic repertoire common to the immune and behavioral systems could have been maintained by balancing selection starting before the split between archaic and modern humans.