Genetic analysis in great apes

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Vuch et al (Genet Mol Res. 2013 May 21;12(2):1731-9) published a study in which they attempted to infer a specific genetic abnormality (Beta thalassemia) based on dysmorphic skeletons of two ape skeletons of closely related but different species. They extracted tooth DNA from each of the skeletons and sequenced the beta globin locus. The beta globin loci from one of the great ape species sequences showed 99.8% similarity to the human locus and the other showed 98.2% sequence similarity. They did not find a mutation consistent with beta thalassemia. However, this was a really interesting study to read and think about how common genetic disorders might express themselves in other closely related species.

Hilary Vernon MD PhD

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