Student Researchers Discover Genes Unique to Humans in Search for Source of Our Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Published:09 Mar.2022    Source:The City University of New York

A team of student researchers from John Jay College of Criminal Justice has discovered human microRNA genes not shared with any other primate species and which may have played an important role in the unique evolution of the human species. The students, under the direction of John Jay Professors Dr. Hunter R. Johnson and Dr. Nathan H. Lents, found at least three families of microRNA genes on chromosome 21.

The team utilized genome alignment tools to compare the most recent drafts of human and chimpanzee genomes, meticulously scanning for novel genetic elements unique to humans. Beginning with the smallest human chromosome, chromosome 21, the researchers were surprised to find a large region of human-unique DNA, called 21p11, that harbors several orphan microRNA genes.