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2-step process filters evolution of genes of human and chimpanzee

nges is also more likely to be advantageous. In short, radical amino acid changes have trouble going through the first phase of evolution to reach even five percent in the population, but once they do, they have an easier time going through the second phase to prevail in the population."

Although the physical or chemical differences between the various amino acids should provide a straightforward measure of the "radicalness" of amino-acid substitutions, those measures did not correlate well with how these changes fared in evolution.

"This tells us that we need new measures for how conservative or radical an amino acid change might be," Wu said. "We need to base that on evolutionary dynamics in addition to biochemical structure."

Using these results, the researchers measured how many of the amino acid changes within functioning genes were adaptiveable to survive rigorous negative selection and then spread rapidly throughout a population. They estimated "the proportion of adaptive changes between human and chimpanzee to be 10.4 to 12.8 percent," similar to previous estimates using entirely different approaches.

When they multiplied that result times current estimates of the number of functional genes, it came to about 3,000 to 7,000.

"These are the genetic changes that are possibly adaptive," said Wu. "Out of those differences, we suspect that some, and perhaps most, are responsible for the most significant changes between human and chimpanzee."


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Contact: John Easton
john.easton@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
5-Mar-2007


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