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Primates reveal a new dimension to human genome

by Medindia Content Team on  May 6, 2003 at 4:53 PM Research News   - G J E 4
Primates reveal a new dimension to human genome
Two laboratories at Berkeley, California have come out with a tremendous technique that would tell out the entire multitude of information held in store in the human genome. This new technique which is called "phylogenetic shadowing". An analysis through this technique helps to elucidate comparisons between the DNA sequences in humans and primates. Phylogenetic shadowing enables a complete study of biological 'behavioral patterns' that identify these primate families unique to study. All of these were not done single-handedly. It is the work of a team that has made these things possible. The team which made these things possible was led by Eddy Ruben and Dare Buffalo, who drove to the comparison of human genomes and that of the primates.
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Since the entire sequence of the human genome is near completion, a vocabulary has to be developed to analyze the sequence and interpret it. This has been achieved through the phylogenetic technique. So far only a study on the mouse or the rat had enabled understanding the human genome sequence but now a comparative study between human genome sequence and that of the non-human primates has to be elucidated to understand the humans better. An important criterion that has to be kept in mind is that primates resemble humans more in their biochemical and physical attributes. Thus even though the mouse may be very good model for the study of human genome sequence there are still common attributes shared by non-human primates which gives scope for a better study. The phylogenetic shadowing process enables the identification of the DNA sequence that play an active role in the identification of the regulation process of activation or 'expression' of a gene that forms an i important indicator of the risk for heart disease and that which is especially found in the primates.

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A technique called comparative genomes which involves comparing of the human genome with that of the mouse and sea squirt, has helped in identification of genes. It is a known concept that the animals today evolved from a common ancestor, thereby giving room to comparing genes to identify those sequences. Conservation of the genome of two different organisms over millions of years gives room to encoding important biological functions. This method of conservation over a long period of time helps in comparative genomes which is a classical approach to the interpretation of human genome. But, there is a certain amount of difficulty in comparing human genome with that of the primates.

A genetic divergence happens in a certain course of time. There is a huge time lapse between the mice and humans since they shared common ancestors, which makes it difficult to compare them. But primates were comparatively recent in sharing common ancestors, and hence it is more easier to make a comparative study. Consequently, non-human primates have been largely ignored in the effort to interpret the human genome. Only a comparative study between distant species will readily help in an analytical study of the human genome. But there is a certain group of scientists who feel that the need for comparing with the non-human primates is more helpful.

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