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Journal Article

Genetic studies of human-chimpanzee divergence using stem cell fusions


Kučka,  M
Chan Group, Friedrich Miescher Laboratory, Max Planck Society;


Soltys,  V
Chan Group, Friedrich Miescher Laboratory, Max Planck Society;


Chan,  YF
Chan Group, Friedrich Miescher Laboratory, Max Planck Society;

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Song, J., Grant, R., Behrens, V., Kučka, M., Kingman, G., Soltys, V., et al. (2021). Genetic studies of human-chimpanzee divergence using stem cell fusions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(51): e2117557118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2117557118.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-301D-0
Complete genome sequencing has identified millions of DNA changes that differ between humans and chimpanzees. Although a subset of these changes likely underlies important phenotypic differences between humans and chimpanzees, it is currently difficult to distinguish causal from incidental changes and to map specific phenotypes to particular genome locations. To facilitate further genetic study of human-chimpanzee divergence, we have generated human and chimpanzee autotetraploids and allotetraploids by fusing induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) of each species. The resulting tetraploid iPSCs can be stably maintained and retain the ability to differentiate along ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm lineages. RNA sequencing identifies thousands of genes whose expression differs between humans and chimpanzees when assessed in single-species diploid or autotetraploid iPSCs. Analysis of gene expression patterns in interspecific allotetraploid iPSCs shows that human-chimpanzee expression differences arise from substantial contributions of both cis-acting changes linked to the genes themselves and trans-acting changes elsewhere in the genome. To enable further genetic mapping of species differences, we tested chemical treatments for stimulating genome-wide mitotic recombination between human and chimpanzee chromosomes, and CRISPR methods for inducing species-specific changes on particular chromosomes in allotetraploid cells. We successfully generated derivative cells with nested deletions or interspecific recombination on the X chromosome. These studies confirm an important role for the X chromosome in trans regulation of expression differences between species and illustrate the potential of this system for more detailed cis and trans mapping of the molecular basis of human and chimpanzee evolution.