[asa] MHC and Horizontal Gene Transfer

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Sat Mar 17 2007 - 18:29:53 EDT

As all the recent discussion has had me pondering the wonderful mysteries of
the human genome, I had a thought and a question: does anyone know about
the possibility of horizontal gene transfer between archaic hominids and
homo sapiens sapiens without interbreeding -- perhaps by the spread of
pathogens between the populations? Very briefly searching, I found some
info that suggests horizontal gene transfer between bacteria and humans is a
possibility. Perhaps horizontal gene transfer could be one piece of the
puzzle of how the genetic history of humans made in the image of God relates
to that of contemporary archaic people (assuming such people were not IOG
and not likely to interbreed with humans). (Before Glenn yells at me, or
anyone else thinks I'm a concordist fruit fly, I'm not suggesting this is
the case, I'm just curious!)


Now that many genomes have been sequenced, scientists can look at the
genomes of *Drosophila*, *Arabidopsis*, human and more than 30 microbes to
compare their genetic repertoires.

Through comparison of microbial genomes, scientists have observed the
frequent transfer of genetic material from one bacterium to another; it is
one reason that antibiotic resistance genes spread so quickly. This gene
flow from one strain of bacteria directly to another is described as lateral
transfer and contrasts with the more conventional vertical transmission of
genes within a species from one generation to the next through inheritance.

One of the more intriguing, and debated, issues in comparative genomics is
the appearance of bacteria genes in the human genome. Given the absence of
these genes from invertebrate ancestors like the fruit fly, nematode worm,
and yeast, scientists have proposed that these genes were laterally
transferred to our genome via a bacterial infection of a recent vertebrate

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Received on Sat Mar 17 18:30:08 2007

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