Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

22: Proteins Make the Primate

By Chris JozefowiczJanuary 3, 2005 6:00 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Scientists uncovered subtle clues this year suggesting that chimpanzees and humans, estimated to be more than 98 percent identical in their DNA sequences, may be more different at the molecular level than previously thought. Instead of being distinguished by a small number of crucial genes, as some geneticists had supposed, the two species appear to have surprisingly significant and widespread differences in the proteins produced by their genes.

A group of international researchers completed the first highly detailed map of a single chimpanzee chromosome and matched it with its human counterpart. Among the portions that lined up, only 1.4 percent of the chemical letters were different, consistent with expectations. However, the researchers found 68,000 small discrepancies where DNA had either been added or lost on the respective chromosomes. And when they analyzed the sequences of 231 genes, they predicted that 83 percent of them would produce proteins that differed in some way.

If such discrepancies occur throughout the rest of the human and chimp genomes, there will probably be thousands of proteins that differentiate the two species. But determining which specific genetic changes led to humans won’t be easy, says Asao Fujiyama, of RIKEN Genomic Sciences Center and the National Institute of Informatics in Japan, one of the project leaders: “The key proteins are very difficult to iron out because we have so many differences.”

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In