Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A New Altai Mountains Neanderthal Genomes and Insights into Archaic Population History

An article published in today's nature discusses the sequencing of the genome of an unknown hominin, which was determined to be a Neanderthal, from the Altai mountains. The authors also performed a low-coverage genome-sequencing of a Mezmaikaya Neanderthal (Caucuses) and were thus able to do some interesting reconstructions of archaic population history. This study was full of interesting findings!
-Very low genetic diversity for the Altai population, suggesting high levels of inbreeding
-Neanderthal gene flow into Eurasians most similar to the Mezmaikaya Neanderthal.
-evidence of admixture between Neanderthals and Denisovans, with greatest gene flow in genomic regions related to immunity and spermatogenesis (HLA and CRISP gene families)
-evidence of admixture between Denisovans and a as-of-yet-unidentified archaic hominin (!)
-a high resolution list of human-specific genetic changes (conserved in Neanderthals, Denisovans, and chimps) which includes a measly 96 fixed amino acid changes!

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