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Biotech Science

Study: An Evolutionary "Arms Race" Shaped the Human Genome 33

An anonymous reader writes "An evolutionary race between rival elements within the genomes of primates drove the evolution of complex regulatory networks that orchestrate the activity of genes in every cell of our bodies, reveals new research. The race was between mobile DNA sequences known as 'retrotransposons' (jumping genes) and the genes that have evolved to control them. Scientists at the University of California Santa Cruz, identified genes in humans that make repressor proteins to shut down specific jumping genes. "We have basically the same 20,000 protein-coding genes as a frog, yet our genome is much more complicated, with more layers of gene regulation. This study helps explain how that came about," said Sofie Salama, a research associate at the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute who led the study."
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Study: An Evolutionary "Arms Race" Shaped the Human Genome

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  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Monday September 29, 2014 @11:47AM (#48019847) Homepage Journal

    Per topic, when pushing rapidly into a new niche, doing the new X a little better than everyone else expanding there makes you the top dog. Once a new option becomes available, it seems natural that evolutionary pressure would push towards exemplifying that niche in a short timespan. That's the whole idea behind punctuated equilibrium as a theory.

    That's not to discredit the amazing work these scientists have done to deduce the mechanics of how that might have happened to early humans.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The title doesn't cover the interesting part of this research. The "Arms Race" it talks about isn't an arms race with genes from other groups of people. It's basically a competition within the genome itself. These retrotransposons are genes that would basically make copies of themselves all around our genomes (likely to our detriment) if there wasn't another set of genes that suppressed that activity. To use a metaphor I've seen elsewhere, the regulator genes are basically like cops that beat the street loo

      • The title doesn't cover the interesting part of this research. The "Arms Race" it talks about isn't an arms race with genes from other groups of people. It's basically a competition within the genome itself.

        The http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org] has been a standard perspective in biology for decades.

    • by gerf ( 532474 )

      I think you're overlooking the root problem here. Science isn't geared toward to correct keywords that generate the articles that you'd like to read. From now on, we should rename "evolution" to "Kim Kardashian," "Mars" to "school shooting," and "SQL" to "Top Ten List."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drjzzz ( 150299 )

      absolutely -- everything is in the race. It's like suggesting more complex beings (e.g. humans) are "more evolved", when in fact they (we) were pushed out of the simpler niches by "better evolved" organisms. There's virus that uses 5 of the 6 available reading frames along a stretch of its genome... THAT is good coding (humans use 1, very rarely 2, and often none (non-protein coding)).

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday September 29, 2014 @11:54AM (#48019899)
    ...all she was doing was imparting some of her reprocessor genes to him, thus causing blocking of the proper jumping genes, to turn him human?
  • This has been known for a while... it's discussed in the layman genetics book "Genome" even.
  • A Quandary (Score:5, Funny)

    by OakDragon ( 885217 ) on Monday September 29, 2014 @12:22PM (#48020135) Journal
    I know that since this is Slashdot, evolution = good, arms race = bad, so I don't know how to process the headline.
  • This is no big surprise. All the mammals have surprisingly similar DNA. [genome.gov]

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.

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