(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists came to the conclusion that some important functions in the genetics of modern humanity were influenced not only by the genes of Neanderthals, but also by Denisovans.
It is known that the indigenous peoples of New Guinea owe up to five percent of their genome to the extinct Denisovans.
To better understand the significance of this contribution, scientists from the universities of Melbourne (Australia), Cambridge (UK), Papua New Guinea studied the genomes of 56 Papuans.
Scientists have been able to identify 16,048 and 10,032 Denisovan and Neanderthal gene variants, respectively, in native New Guineans that can influence phenotypes.
It turned out that Neanderthal DNA did not greatly affect immune cells and their functions in 56 Papuans studied, but the contribution of Denisovan DNA was quite powerful.
Further tests in cell cultures confirmed these findings: Denisovan DNA sequences successfully regulated neighboring genes, up or down their expression in a way that affected people’s response to infections.
Therefore, scientists suggest that Denisovan DNA sequences altered the immune response of early modern humans living in New Guinea and nearby islands, helping them adapt to the local environment.
So the researchers rightly believe that not only Neanderthal, but also Denisovan DNA influenced the genetic diversity and evolution of modern humans, contributing to gene expression in human populations.
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