A gradual optimization of mitochondria--the cells’ powerhouses--may have occurred in the human lineage, which could be associated with the evolution of human longevity and intelligence. The study is reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Molecular Evolution and was conducted by Joao Pedro de Magalhaes, a Portuguese researcher working at Harvard Medical School.
By comparing the mitochondrial genome of multiple primates, the researcher found several mitochondrial genes in which the normal form, or allele, of the gene in nonhuman primates is a disease-causing allele in humans. "What the results show is that certain alleles that cause diseases in humans are predominant in nonhuman primates," says de Magalhaes. "Certainly, some of these alleles do not cause diseases in nonhuman primates and hence secondary changes must have compensated for their deleterious effects. Still, these secondary changes could indicate adaptive differences between humans and nonhuman primates in the mitochondrion." Moreover, the researcher also found normal alleles in nonhuman primates that are associated with human late-onset diseases. It is possible that these late-onset disease-causing alleles are biologically significant, but since nonhuman primates do not live nearly as long as we do they do not develop the diseases. During the evolution of the human species, in which our lifespan was gradually extended, these disease-causing alleles had to be excluded from the population, which could have led to an optimization of the mitochondrion in humans.
Humans are not only the smartest primates but have the longest lifespan, and hence these results could indicate a gradual optimization of mitochondrial proteins in the lineage leading to humans as a means to delay certain forms of neurodegeneration. "It has long been argued that longevity and intelligence evolved together in the lineage leading to humans," says de Magalhaes. "In fact, some nonhuman primates develop neurodegenerative changes at considerably earlier ages than what is typically observed in human patients. Mitochondria have been associated with neurodegenerative diseases, including the genes whose human disease-causing allele was found to be the normal allele in some nonhuman primates, and the mitochondrial genome has be linked to aging. So the general pattern of these results could indicate a selection on the human mitochondrion associated with the higher human intelligence and extended lifespan. Still," de Magalhaes warns, "we will need more detailed studies to prove this hypothesis."
Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
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...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences