[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present the high-quality genome sequence of a 45,000-year-old modern human male from Siberia. This individual derives from a population that lived before—or simultaneously with—the separation of the populations in western and eastern Eurasia and carries a similar amount of Neanderthal ancestry as present-day Eurasians. However, the genomic segments of Neanderthal ancestry are substantially longer than those observed in present-day individuals, indicating that Neanderthal gene flow into the ancestors of this individual occurred 7,000–13,000 years before he lived. We estimate an autosomal mutation rate of 0.4 3 10 29 to 0.6 3 10 29 per site per year, a Y chromosomal mutation rate of 0.7 3 10 29 to 0.9 3 10 29 per site per year based on the additional substitutions that have occurred in present-day non-Africans compared to this genome, and a mitochondrial mutation rate of 1.8 3 10 28 to 3.2 3 10 28 per site per year based on the age of the bone.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The acquisition of language and speech is uniquely human, but how genetic changes might have adapted the nervous system to this capacity is not well understood. Two human-specific amino acid substitutions in the transcription factor forkhead box P2 (FOXP2) are outstanding mechanistic candidates, as they could have been positively selected during human evolution and as FOXP2 is the sole gene to date firmly linked to speech and language development. When these two substitutions are introduced into the endogenous Foxp2 gene of mice (Foxp2(hum)), cortico-basal ganglia circuits are specifically affected. Here we demonstrate marked effects of this humanization of Foxp2 on learning and striatal neuroplasticity. Foxp2(hum/hum) mice learn stimulus-response associations faster than their WT littermates in situations in which declarative (i.e., place-based) and procedural (i.e., response-based) forms of learning could compete during transitions toward proceduralization of action sequences. Striatal districts known to be differently related to these two modes of learning are affected differently in the Foxp2(hum/hum) mice, as judged by measures of dopamine levels, gene expression patterns, and synaptic plasticity, including an NMDA receptor-dependent form of long-term depression. These findings raise the possibility that the humanized Foxp2 phenotype reflects a different tuning of corticostriatal systems involved in declarative and procedural learning, a capacity potentially contributing to adapting the human brain for speech and language acquisition.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RUNX2, a gene involved in skeletal development, has previously been shown to be potentially affected by positive selection during recent human evolution. Here we have used antibody-based proteomics to characterize potential differences in expression patterns of RUNX2 interacting partners during primate evolution. Tissue microarrays consisting of a large set of normal tissues from human and macaque were used for protein profiling of 50 RUNX2 partners with immunohistochemistry. Eleven proteins (AR, CREBBP, EP300, FGF2, HDAC3, JUN, PRKD3, RUNX1, SATB2, TCF3 and YAP1) showed differences in expression between humans and macaques. These proteins were further profiled in tissues from chimpanzee, gorilla and orangutan, and the corresponding genes were analyzed with regard to genomic features. Moreover, protein expression data was compared with previously obtained RNA sequencing data from six different organs. One gene (TCF3) showed significant expression differences between human and macaque at both the protein and RNA level, with higher expression in a subset of germ cells in human testis compared to macaque. In conclusion, normal tissues from macaque and human showed differences in expression of some RUNX2 partners that could be mapped to various defined cell types. The applied strategy appears advantageous to characterize the consequences of altered genes selected during evolution.
Journal of Proteome Research 06/2014; · 5.06 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ancient DNA sequencing has recently provided high-coverage archaic human genomes. However, the evolution of epigenetic regulation along the human lineage remains largely unexplored. We reconstructed the full DNA methylation maps of the Neandertal and the Denisovan by harnessing the natural degradation processes of methylated and unmethylated cytosines. Comparing these ancient methylation maps to those of present-day humans, we identified ~2000 differentially methylated regions (DMRs). Particularly, we found substantial methylation changes in the HOXD cluster that may explain anatomical differences between archaic and present-day humans. Additionally, we found that DMRs are significantly more likely to be associated with diseases. This study provides insight into the epigenetic landscape of our closest evolutionary relatives and opens a window to explore the epigenomes of extinct species.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Metabolite concentrations reflect the physiological states of tissues and cells. However, the role of metabolic changes in species evolution is currently unknown. Here, we present a study of metabolome evolution conducted in three brain regions and two non-neural tissues from humans, chimpanzees, macaque monkeys, and mice based on over 10,000 hydrophilic compounds. While chimpanzee, macaque, and mouse metabolomes diverge following the genetic distances among species, we detect remarkable acceleration of metabolome evolution in human prefrontal cortex and skeletal muscle affecting neural and energy metabolism pathways. These metabolic changes could not be attributed to environmental conditions and were confirmed against the expression of their corresponding enzymes. We further conducted muscle strength tests in humans, chimpanzees, and macaques. The results suggest that, while humans are characterized by superior cognition, their muscular performance might be markedly inferior to that of chimpanzees and macaque monkeys.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present the DNA sequence of 17,367 protein-coding genes in two Neandertals from Spain and Croatia and analyze them together with the genome sequence recently determined from a Neandertal from southern Siberia. Comparisons with present-day humans from Africa, Europe, and Asia reveal that genetic diversity among Neandertals was remarkably low, and that they carried a higher proportion of amino acid-changing (nonsynonymous) alleles inferred to alter protein structure or function than present-day humans. Thus, Neandertals across Eurasia had a smaller long-term effective population than present-day humans. We also identify amino acid substitutions in Neandertals and present-day humans that may underlie phenotypic differences between the two groups. We find that genes involved in skeletal morphology have changed more in the lineage leading to Neandertals than in the ancestral lineage common to archaic and modern humans, whereas genes involved in behavior and pigmentation have changed more on the modern human lineage.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inter-individual differences in many behaviors are partly due to genetic
differences, but the identification of the genes and variants that influence
behavior remains challenging. Here, we studied an F2 intercross of two outbred
lines of rats selected for tame and aggressive behavior towards humans for more
than 64 generations. By using a mapping approach that is able to identify
genetic loci segregating within the lines, we identified four times more loci
influencing tameness and aggression than by an approach that assumes fixation
of causative alleles, suggesting that many causative loci were not driven to
fixation by the selection. We used RNA sequencing in 150 F2 animals to identify
hundreds of loci that influence brain gene expression. Several of these loci
colocalize with tameness loci and may reflect the same genetic variants.
Through analyses of correlations between allele effects on behavior and gene
expression, differential expression between the tame and aggressive rat
selection lines, and correlations between gene expression and tameness in F2
animals, we identify the genes Gltscr2, Lgi4, Zfp40 and Slc17a7 as candidate
contributors to the strikingly different behavior of the tame and aggressive
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Research into when and where modern humans originated and how they differ from, and interacted with, other now-extinct forms of human has so far been the realm of archaeologists and paleoanthropologists. However, over the past decade, molecular geneticists have begun to study genomes of extinct humans. Here, I discuss where we stand today with respect to understanding how modern humans came to differ from Neandertals and other human forms that existed until about 30,000 years ago.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are regarded as a central tool to understand human biology in health and disease. Similarly, iPSCs from non-human primates should be a central tool to understand human evolution, in particular for assessing the conservation of regulatory networks in iPSC models. Here, we have generated human, gorilla, bonobo and cynomolgus monkey iPSCs and assess their usefulness in such a framework. We show that these cells are well comparable in their differentiation potential and are generally similar to human, cynomolgus and rhesus monkey embryonic stem cells (ESCs). RNA sequencing reveals that expression differences among clones, individuals and stem cell type are all of very similar magnitude within a species. In contrast, expression differences between closely related primate species are three times larger and most genes show significant expression differences among the analyzed species. However, pseudogenes differ more than twice as much, suggesting that evolution of expression levels in primate stem cells is rapid, but constrained. These patterns in pluripotent stem cells are comparable to those found in other tissues except testis. Hence, primate iPSCs reveal insights into general primate gene expression evolution and should provide a rich source to identify conserved and species-specific gene expression patterns for cellular phenotypes.
Stem Cell Research 02/2014; 12(3):622-629. · 4.47 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genomic studies have shown that Neanderthals interbred with modern humans, and that non-Africans today are the products of this mixture. The antiquity of Neanderthal gene flow into modern humans means that genomic regions that derive from Neanderthals in any one human today are usually less than a hundred kilobases in size. However, Neanderthal haplotypes are also distinctive enough that several studies have been able to detect Neanderthal ancestry at specific loci. We systematically infer Neanderthal haplotypes in the genomes of 1,004 present-day humans. Regions that harbour a high frequency of Neanderthal alleles are enriched for genes affecting keratin filaments, suggesting that Neanderthal alleles may have helped modern humans to adapt to non-African environments. We identify multiple Neanderthal-derived alleles that confer risk for disease, suggesting that Neanderthal alleles continue to shape human biology. An unexpected finding is that regions with reduced Neanderthal ancestry are enriched in genes, implying selection to remove genetic material derived from Neanderthals. Genes that are more highly expressed in testes than in any other tissue are especially reduced in Neanderthal ancestry, and there is an approximately fivefold reduction of Neanderthal ancestry on the X chromosome, which is known from studies of diverse species to be especially dense in male hybrid sterility genes. These results suggest that part of the explanation for genomic regions of reduced Neanderthal ancestry is Neanderthal alleles that caused decreased fertility in males when moved to a modern human genetic background.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: One of the main impediments for obtaining DNA sequences from ancient human skeletons is the presence of contaminating modern human DNA molecules in many fossil samples and laboratory reagents. However, DNA fragments isolated from ancient specimens show a characteristic DNA damage pattern caused by miscoding lesions that differs from present day DNA sequences. Here, we develop a framework for evaluating the likelihood of a sequence originating from a model with postmortem degradation-summarized in a postmortem degradation score-which allows the identification of DNA fragments that are unlikely to originate from present day sources. We apply this approach to a contaminated Neandertal specimen from Okladnikov Cave in Siberia to isolate its endogenous DNA from modern human contaminants and show that the reconstructed mitochondrial genome sequence is more closely related to the variation of Western Neandertals than what was discernible from previous analyses. Our method opens up the potential for genomic analysis of contaminated fossil material.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Performing genetic studies in multiple human populations can identify disease risk alleles that are common in one population but rare in others, with the potential to illuminate pathophysiology, health disparities, and the population genetic origins of disease alleles. Here we analysed 9.2 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in each of 8,214 Mexicans and other Latin Americans: 3,848 with type 2 diabetes and 4,366 non-diabetic controls. In addition to replicating previous findings, we identified a novel locus associated with type 2 diabetes at genome-wide significance spanning the solute carriers SLC16A11 and SLC16A13 (P = 3.9 × 10−13; odds ratio (OR) = 1.29). The association was stronger in younger, leaner people with type 2 diabetes, and replicated in independent samples (P = 1.1 × 10−4; OR = 1.20). The risk haplotype carries four amino acid substitutions, all in SLC16A11; it is present at ~50% frequency in Native American samples and ~10% in east Asian, but is rare in European and African samples. Analysis of an archaic genome sequence indicated that the risk haplotype introgressed into modern humans via admixture with Neanderthals. The SLC16A11 messenger RNA is expressed in liver, and V5-tagged SLC16A11 protein localizes to the endoplasmic reticulum. Expression of SLC16A11 in heterologous cells alters lipid metabolism, most notably causing an increase in intracellular triacylglycerol levels. Despite type 2 diabetes having been well studied by genome-wide association studies in other populations, analysis in Mexican and Latin American individuals identified SLC16A11 as a novel candidate gene for type 2 diabetes with a possible role in triacylglycerol metabolism.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Analysis of ancient DNA can reveal historical events that are difficult to
discern through study of present-day individuals. To investigate European
population history around the time of the agricultural transition, we sequenced
complete genomes from a ~7,500 year old early farmer from the Linearbandkeramik
(LBK) culture from Stuttgart in Germany and an ~8,000 year old hunter-gatherer
from the Loschbour rock shelter in Luxembourg. We also generated data from
seven ~8,000 year old hunter-gatherers from Motala in Sweden. We compared these
genomes and published ancient DNA to new data from 2,196 samples from 185
diverse populations to show that at least three ancestral groups contributed to
present-day Europeans. The first are Ancient North Eurasians (ANE), who are
more closely related to Upper Paleolithic Siberians than to any present-day
population. The second are West European Hunter-Gatherers (WHG), related to the
Loschbour individual, who contributed to all Europeans but not to Near
Easterners. The third are Early European Farmers (EEF), related to the
Stuttgart individual, who were mainly of Near Eastern origin but also harbored
WHG-related ancestry. We model the deep relationships of these populations and
show that about ~44% of the ancestry of EEF derived from a basal Eurasian
lineage that split prior to the separation of other non-Africans.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present a high-quality genome sequence of a Neanderthal woman from Siberia. We show that her parents were related at the level of half-siblings and that mating among close relatives was common among her recent ancestors. We also sequenced the genome of a Neanderthal from the Caucasus to low coverage. An analysis of the relationships and population history of available archaic genomes and 25 present-day human genomes shows that several gene flow events occurred among Neanderthals, Denisovans and early modern humans, possibly including gene flow into Denisovans from an unknown archaic group. Thus, interbreeding, albeit of low magnitude, occurred among many hominin groups in the Late Pleistocene. In addition, the high-quality Neanderthal genome allows us to establish a definitive list of substitutions that became fixed in modern humans after their separation from the ancestors of Neanderthals and Denisovans.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Excavations of a complex of caves in the Sierra de Atapuerca in northern Spain have unearthed hominin fossils that range in age from the early Pleistocene to the Holocene. One of these sites, the 'Sima de los Huesos' ('pit of bones'), has yielded the world's largest assemblage of Middle Pleistocene hominin fossils, consisting of at least 28 individuals dated to over 300,000 years ago. The skeletal remains share a number of morphological features with fossils classified as Homo heidelbergensis and also display distinct Neanderthal-derived traits. Here we determine an almost complete mitochondrial genome sequence of a hominin from Sima de los Huesos and show that it is closely related to the lineage leading to mitochondrial genomes of Denisovans, an eastern Eurasian sister group to Neanderthals. Our results pave the way for DNA research on hominins from the Middle Pleistocene.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The geographic and temporal origins of the domestic dog remain controversial, as genetic data suggest a domestication process in East Asia beginning 15,000 years ago, whereas the oldest doglike fossils are found in Europe and Siberia and date to >30,000 years ago. We analyzed the mitochondrial genomes of 18 prehistoric canids from Eurasia and the New World, along with a comprehensive panel of modern dogs and wolves. The mitochondrial genomes of all modern dogs are phylogenetically most closely related to either ancient or modern canids of Europe. Molecular dating suggests an onset of domestication there 18,800 to 32,100 years ago. These findings imply that domestic dogs are the culmination of a process that initiated with European hunter-gatherers and the canids with whom they interacted.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although an inverse relationship is expected in ancient DNA samples between the number of surviving DNA fragments and their length, ancient DNA sequencing libraries are strikingly deficient in molecules shorter than 40 bp. We find that a loss of short molecules can occur during DNA extraction and present an improved silica-based extraction protocol that enables their efficient retrieval. In combination with single-stranded DNA library preparation, this method enabled us to reconstruct the mitochondrial genome sequence from a Middle Pleistocene cave bear (Ursus deningeri) bone excavated at Sima de los Huesos in the Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain. Phylogenetic reconstructions indicate that the U. deningeri sequence forms an early diverging sister lineage to all Western European Late Pleistocene cave bears. Our results prove that authentic ancient DNA can be preserved for hundreds of thousand years outside of permafrost. Moreover, the techniques presented enable the retrieval of phylogenetically informative sequences from samples in which virtually all DNA is diminished to fragments shorter than 50 bp.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Under favorable conditions DNA can survive for thousands of years in the remains of dead organisms. The DNA extracted from such remains is invariably degraded to a small average size by processes that at least partly involve depurination. It also contains large amounts of deaminated cytosine residues that are accumulated toward the ends of the molecules, as well as several other lesions that are less well characterized.
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology 05/2013; · 9.63 Impact Factor