the lack of a fossil record of the period in which the wings emerged has limited the analysis of this transitional stage. What distinguishes Homo sapiens from other living things? And to all mammals? What makes them different? These are the questions to which researchers from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute (IMIM) have tried to find an answer , in collaboration with the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences of Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) . To do so, they have analyzed the already sequenced genome of 68 mammals and have identified 6,000 gene families that can only be found in these animals. These are genes without homologues outside mammals, that is, they are not present in other hairless species. In humans, they are estimated to account for 2.5% of genes that code for proteins. The work has been led by Dr.
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José Luis Villanueva-Cañas , researcher at the IMIM Evolutionary Genomics Research Group and currently a researcher at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (UPF-CSIC), and Dr. Nigerian Email Database Mar Albà , ICREA researcher at IMIM and of the Research Program in Biomedical Informatics (GRIB) of the IMIM and UPF. The group of Dr. David Andreu collaborated in the studyin the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences of the Pompeu Fabra University. It has been published by the journal Genome Biology and Evolution . Dr. Villanueva-Cañas explained that the objective of the work was “to understand which genes define mammals as a class, that is, which genes are only found within this group”. To do this, a set of programs was designed that made it possible to compare the genomes of 68 mammals. Among them, Homo sapiens, but also primates and representatives
of the main orders of this class of animals, including the Iberian lynx. With these data, a catalog of genes exclusive to mammals was generated, some 6,000 gene families. At the same time, they were assigned a possible age of origin based on the species in which they are present. We also tried to find out what these genes do, using expression data (RNA sequencing) from different tissues to see where and when they were expressed, and proteomics data to see if they are translated, that is, if they produce proteins. Shorter, but active new genes A part of these genes would have a de novo origin , they do not come from the duplication of existing genes. De novo genes are important for acquiring new functions during evolution, as demonstrated by a previous study led by Dr. Albà ( Origins of de novo genes in human and chimpanzee , published in Plos Genetics) .