A Human-Specific Gene in Microglia

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Science  09 Sep 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5741, pp. 1693
DOI: 10.1126/science.1114321

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Recent studies have shown multiple differences between humans and apes in sialic acid (Sia) biology, including Siglecs (Sia-recognizing-Ig-superfamily lectins). Comparisons with the chimpanzee genome indicate that human SIGLEC11 emerged through human-specific gene conversion by an adjacent pseudogene. Conversion involved 5� untranslated sequences and the Sia-recognition domain. This human protein shows reduced binding relative to the ancestral form but recognizes oligosialic acids, which are enriched in the brain. SIGLEC11 is expressed in human but not in chimpanzee brain microglia. Further studies will determine if this event was related to the evolution of Homo.

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