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HPV Through the Ages

A new study traces the possible origin of some human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16) lineages, some of which are oncogenic, to Neanderthals or Denisovans, Vox reports.

Researchers from the Catalan Institute of Oncology analyzed the genetic diversity of existing HPV16 strains, and compared the phylogeography of HPV16 and modern humans to find that codivergence with modern humans only accounts for a third or less of the virus' current distribution, as they report in Molecular Biology and Evolution. Instead, they hypothesized that some HPV16 viruses evolved with another archaic human population and then later infected the ancestors of modern humans.

In particular, their analyses indicated that an ancestral HPV16 virus infected the common ancestor of Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis about 500,000 years ago and when the host lineages diverged, so did the viral HPV16 lineages. But when a group of modern humans migrated out of Africa and encountered Neanderthals, they also encountered and became infected with the Neanderthal lineage of HPV16. That lineage then spread throughout modern human populations in Eurasia and the Americas to become dominant. The Catalan team further notes that the interaction between the viral and host genotypes could account for the differences in cancer risk that HPV16 poses.

"The results mean that humans have been living with this STD for a long time," Vox adds. "And it's a notable chapter in our human history."

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.