Gene activity sets humans apart from extinct hominids

Methylation differs between modern people, Neandertals and Denisovans

By Tina Hesman Saey, 12:54 PM April 17, 2014

Extinct human cousins may have used some genes differently than modern people do, an analysis of Neandertal and Denisovan DNA reveals.

Compared with living people, Neandertals and ancient Siberians known as Denisovans had slightly different patterns of DNA methylation — a chemical modification of DNA that doesn’t change the information in genes but helps control gene activity. Evolutionary geneticist Liran Carmel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and colleagues found that the extinct homin...

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