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Doubling up on ‘junk DNA’ helps make us human

Geneticists ID 80 duplicated regions, many of which may impact the brain

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6:18pm, October 19, 2017
DNA illustration

SEEING DOUBLE  Some DNA is duplicated in humans. The copies may be responsible for some uniquely human traits and diseases.

ORLANDO — Doubling up on some DNA may have helped make humans human — including giving us uniquely human diseases.

DNA that doesn’t produce proteins may be especially important for creating differences between humans and other primates, biochemist Paulina Carmona-Mora reported October 18 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics.

Carmona-Mora and colleagues in Megan Dennis’ lab at the University of California, Davis identified parts of humans’ entire set of genetic instructions, or genome, that are duplicated in people but not in other primates. Many of those duplicated regions overlap parts of the genome implicated in many diseases and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, Carmona-Mora said.

Dennis and other researchers have found that some genes duplicated only in humans

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