Mobile DNA element allows conclusions on the evolution of apes
An international team of researchers that includes Christian Roos, Markus Brameier and Lutz Walter from the German Primate Center (DPZ) in Göttingen, have decoded the genome of gibbons from Southeast Asia. With this, the entire genetic information of five different species of this primate family has been sequenced for the first time.
Northern White-cheeked Gibbon male (Nomascus leucogenys)
Image: Tilo Nadler
Northern White-cheeked Gibbon female (Nomascus leucogenys)
Image: Tilo Nadler
Comparisons with the genome data of humans and our closest relatives, the great apes, show that while we all genetically have the same ancestors, the genetic information of the gibbons has changed more rapidly and stronger in the course of the evolutionary process.
The researchers could identify a new DNA element that only occurs in gibbons. This DNA element increases the mutation rate, and is thus of crucial importance for the evolutionary development. Thanks to the DNA element, the gibbon is also known as the one with the long, strong arms who elegantly moves through the forests of Southeast Asia. The study published in the current issue of Nature, allows important insights in the molecular fundamentals of the evolutionary process (Carbone et al. 2014)
The gibbons, known as small apes are genetically farther from humans than the great apes chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orang-utans. In the genealogy of the evolutionary developments of primates, the gibbons do occupy a key position. In the course of the evolutionary process, they were the first to split from the hereditary line of the great apes and humans.
„The complete sequencing of the gibbon genome was pending until now“, says Christian Roos, a scientist from the Primate Genetics Laboratory at the DPZ. “In order to fully understand the human evolution and to draw conclusions on our evolutionary roots, we need to conduct phylogenetic research of our more distant relatives.“
Genetic disorder and jumping gene sections
In their genome analysis, the researchers discovered that the genetic information of the gibbons differs in their entirety from that of humans and of apes. “The genetic information itself is similar to ours”, explains Christian Roos. “However, large segments of DNA and in such, many genes are arranged differently on the individual chromosomes.” This "chromosomal disorder" is a key feature of the gibbon genome and has probably occurred after their secession from the ancestral line of the apes and humans.
Through further research on the gibbon DNA, scientists were finally able to identify a possible cause for these changes in the genome: A jumping DNA element called LAVA transposon can be copied and integrated elsewhere in the genome. So far, transposons or jumping genes have been detected in many different organisms. However, the LAVA transposon is unique to the gibbon genome.
The special feature of this DNA element is its positioning in precisely those genes that play a role in the chromosome distribution during cell division and thus influences them. Analyses of the phylogenetic development of the gibbon line also indicate a connection to the existence of the LAVA transposons. Their first appearance can be traced back with a high probability to the time of the splitting of the gibbons from the line of apes and humans.
Genetic basis for gibbon-specific way of life
Through comparative DNA analyses, the researchers could also identify genes subjected to a positive selection. In the course of evolution, genes that favored the adaptation of the gibbons to their way of life, continued to develop. These include genes responsible for anatomical specifications such as longer arms or stronger muscles. Gibbon genes, which have undergone a positive selection are, for example TBX5, which is required for the development of the front extremities and COL1A1, responsible for the development of the protein collagen. The latter is one of the main components of connective tissues in bones, teeth and tendons.
"These genes are positively selected only in the gibbon genome", says Christian Roos. “In future projects, sequencing will be performed on other gibbon species. We hope to be able to further characterize these genes and to identify other gibbon-specific genes.”
Carbone, L. et al. (2014): Gibbon genome and the fast karyotype evolution of small apes. Nature Epub ahead of print. DOI: 10.1038/nature13679
PD Dr. Christian Roos
Primate Genetics Laboratory
German Primate Center
phone +49 551 3851-300
Dr. Susanne Diederich
German Primate Center
phone: +49 551 3851-359
The German Primate Center (DPZ) – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research conducts biological and biomedical research with primates in infection research, neuroscience and primate biology. The DPZ maintains three field stations in the tropics and is the reference and service center for all aspects of primate research. The DPZ is one of 89 research and infrastructure facilities of the Leibniz Association.
http://medien.dpz.eu/webgate/keyword.html?currentContainerId=2301 - Printable images
http://www.dpz.eu/en/info-center/media-center/video.html - video (German language)
http://www.dpz.eu/en/news/news.html - DPZ website
Dr. Susanne Diederich | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences