U.S. scientists have completed what's believed the most comprehensive assessment of gene copy number variations across human and non-human primate species.
A study provides an overview of genes and gene families that have undergone major copy number expansions and contractions during approximately 60 million years of evolutionary time.
Primates first appeared on Earth about 90 million years ago, and today roughly 300 primate species exist. To survey the differences in gene copy number among those species, researchers used DNA microarrays containing more than 24,000 human genes to perform comparative genomic hybridization experiments. DNA comparisons were made using samples from humans with those of nine other primate species: chimpanzee, gorilla, bonobo, orangutan, gibbon, macaque, baboon, marmoset, and lemur. This allowed them to identify specific genes and gene families that, through evolutionary time, have undergone lineage-specific copy number gains and losses.
The scientists said they discovered differences potentially associated with cognition, reproduction, immune function, and susceptibility to genetic disease.