Monday, April 11, 2016

First Analysis of Y Chromosome in Neanderthals

          This article was very interesting from Fernando L. Mendez. This was the first study to observe the Y chromosome in Neanderthals. I think it is very interesting that previous studies only sequenced DNA from fossils of Neanderthal woman or mitochondrial DNA (which is only passed down to either sex from the mother). The Y chromosome can carry so many different genes and traits that the female sex chromosome cannot. In this case, they found protein-coding differences between genes in humans and Neanderthals on the Y chromosome which were mutations known in humans to create male-specific minor histocompatibility antigens. The Y chromosome was the main part of the Neanderthal genome that needed to be analyzed. This comes as a shock to me to be honest. Studying the Y chromosome helps scientists understand the population divergence between Neanderthals and modern humans, as well as observe possible genetic interactions between archaic and modern gene variations between hybrid offspring.  The thing that surprises me the most is how much time it took for this to happen. This started almost as far back as 2008. I would think that both sex chromosomes would be analyzed. I am curious to know why there was such a long wait for the Y chromosome. Was there not such a demand to analyze it right away? Did the technology at hand not have the skills to work on it? 

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