The evolution of Homo sapiens denisova and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis miRNA targeting genes in the prenatal and postnatal brain.
ABSTRACT: 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: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: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: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:Early life stress disrupts growth and creates horizontal grooves on the tooth surface in humans and other mammals, yet there is no consensus for their quantitative analysis. Linear defects are considered to be nonspecific stress indicators, but evidence suggests that intermittent, severe stressors create deeper defects than chronic, low-level stressors. However, species-specific growth patterns also influence defect morphology, with faster-growing teeth having shallower defects at the population level. Here we describe a method to measure the depth of linear enamel defects and normal growth increments (i.e., perikymata) from high-resolution 3D topographies using confocal profilometry and apply it to a diverse sample of Homo neanderthalensis and H. sapiens anterior teeth. Debate surrounds whether Neanderthals exhibited modern human-like growth patterns in their teeth and other systems, with some researchers suggesting that they experienced more severe childhood stress. Our results suggest that Neanderthals have shallower features than H. sapiens from the Upper Paleolithic, Neolithic, and medieval eras, mirroring the faster growth rates in Neanderthal anterior teeth. However, when defect depth is scaled by perikymata depth to assess their severity, Neolithic humans have less severe defects, while Neanderthals and the other H. sapiens groups show evidence of more severe early life growth disruptions.
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.
Project description:The term "encephalization" is commonly used to describe an enlargement in brain size, considered as either absolute endocranial volumes or relative values in relation to body size. It is widely recognized that a considerable endocranial expansion occurred throughout the evolution of the genus Homo. This article aims to evaluate whether this phenomenon was the outcome of distinct evolutionary lineages, reaching similar brain expansions but through different trajectories. Endocranial morphology was studied in a sample of fossil hominines by multivariate approaches using both traditional metrics and geometric morphometrics. The analysis was focused on the transition from a generalized archaic pattern within the genus Homo to the modern morphology and compared with changes that occurred along the Neandertal lineage. The main result was the identification of two different evolutionary trajectories, in which a similar expansion in endocranial size has been reached by different changes in shape. Along the Neandertal lineage we observed maintenance of an "archaic" endocranial model, in which a large amount of variability is based on a single allometric trend. By contrast, when modern endocasts were compared with nonmodern ones, we found important differences apparently led by a parietal expansion. In this light, the origin of our species may have represented the opportunity to surpass the constraints imposed on encephalization by the ontogenetic pattern shared by nonmodern Homo representatives.
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:Recent developmental studies demonstrate that early fossil hominins possessed shorter growth periods than living humans, implying disparate life histories. Analyses of incremental features in teeth provide an accurate means of assessing the age at death of developing dentitions, facilitating direct comparisons with fossil and modern humans. It is currently unknown when and where the prolonged modern human developmental condition originated. Here, an application of x-ray synchrotron microtomography reveals that an early Homo sapiens juvenile from Morocco dated at 160,000 years before present displays an equivalent degree of tooth development to modern European children at the same age. Crown formation times in the juvenile's macrodont dentition are higher than modern human mean values, whereas root development is accelerated relative to modern humans but is less than living apes and some fossil hominins. The juvenile from Jebel Irhoud is currently the oldest-known member of Homo with a developmental pattern (degree of eruption, developmental stage, and crown formation time) that is more similar to modern H. sapiens than to earlier members of Homo. This study also underscores the continuing importance of North Africa for understanding the origins of human anatomical and behavioral modernity. Corresponding biological and cultural changes may have appeared relatively late in the course of human evolution.
Project description:Homo sapiens fresh whole blood was infected with Candida parapsilosis. RNA-pool of both species extracted at 0min (control), 15, 30, 60, 120, 240 min. Samples are rRNA depleted. Measurement of Homo sapiens gene expression.