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Scientists demonstrate that human and apes’ genes mutate at similar rates

March 07, 2017, 15:12 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The scientists studied homologic genome sequences of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans as they have a common ancestry

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© Artiom Korotaev/TASS

MOSCOW, March 7. /TASS/ Segments of a human genome and that of related ape species mutate at a similar rate omitting biochemical factors. This was proven by researchers from the A.A. Kharkevich Institute for Information Transmission Problems of RAS (IITP) and Skoltech Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), the Skoltech press office said. The research will enable predicting the impact of mutations on human genes in the future.

"Knowledge of the rate at which a DNA segment mutates in the case of related species provides more information on human mutation rates than do any detailed understanding of DNA’s biochemical properties. This information will provide insights into the probability of mutations in humans and, consequently, will make it possible to predict their functional meaning," Georgy Bazykin, Chief of the Molecular Evolution Segment at IITP, and professor at Skoltech said.

The scientists have studied homologic genome sequences of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans as they have a common ancestry. Due to the fact that different species have different biochemical factors affecting the rate of mutation, for instance, chromatin structure and recombination frequency of a given DNA segment, the rate of mutation should differ as well. Nevertheless, the investigation has revealed that homologic genes of related species of primates and human change with almost the same rate. The reason for that has not yet been clarified.

"We found out that there exists some unknown "hidden" factors affecting the mutation rate and partially explaining the similarity between mutation rates of human and anthropoid apes," Bazyrin commented.

Among other reasons, understanding the mechanism of mutation appearance holds medical importance as many mutations which a human acquires lead to diseases.

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