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Nature DOI:10.1038/nature12961

The genomic landscape of Neanderthal ancestry in present-day humans.

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsSankararaman, S, Mallick, S, Dannemann, M, Prüfer, K, Kelso, J, Pääbo, S, Patterson, N, Reich, D
Date Published2014 Mar 20
KeywordsAlleles, Animals, Female, Gene Flow, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genome, Human, Genomics, Haplotypes, Humans, Hybridization, Genetic, Infertility, Male, Keratins, Male, Neanderthals, Organ Specificity, Phylogeny, Selection, Genetic, Testis, X Chromosome

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.


Alternate JournalNature
PubMed ID24476815
PubMed Central IDPMC4072735
Grant List / / Howard Hughes Medical Institute / United States
R01 GM100233 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States
R01 HG006399 / HG / NHGRI NIH HHS / United States
GM100233 / GM / NIGMS NIH HHS / United States