Human genes take evolutionary turns

5:35pm, January 11, 2004

Scientists have identified a set of genes that has evolved an extensive pattern of alterations unique to people, at least when compared with corresponding genes in chimpanzees and mice.

Specific molecular adjustments to these genes benefited humans and so were retained through natural selection, says a team led by Michele Cargill of Celera Diagnostics in Alameda, Calif.

The researchers describe their statistical analyses of the chemical makeup of corresponding genes in humans, chimps, and mice in the Dec. 12, 2003 Science. Of particular interest, they say, are the more than 1,500 human genes that contain unique mutations apparently produced through natural selection during our species' evolution.

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