Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Evolution News - Women with Neanderthal Genes are More Fertile

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Women with Neandertal gene give birth to more children | Karolinska Institutet Nyheter

The one in three European women who have a copy of a Neanderthal gene are likely to be more fertile because they suffer fewer miscarriages and incidents of bleeding in early pregnancy, according to researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

The gene codes for a progesterone receptor. Molecular analyses revealed that these women produce more progesterone receptors in their cells, which may lead to increased sensitivity to progesterone and to protection against early miscarriages and bleeding.

By studying biobank data from more than 450,000 participants – among them 244,000 women - the team discovered that 29% of European women have one copy of the gene variant and 3% have two copies. This is some ten times greater than the incidence of other Neanderthal gene variants in European women.

A difference of this magnitude suggests the Neanderthal variant conveyed a significant reproductive success on its carriers.

The team's findings were published open access in Molecular Biology & Evolution, a few days ago.

The hormone progesterone is important for preparing the uterine lining for egg implantation and in maintaining the early stages of pregnancy. The gene encoding the progesterone receptor (PGR) carries introgressed Neandertal haplotypes with two non-synonymous substitutions and a mobile Alu element. They have reached nearly 20% frequency in non-Africans and have been associated with preterm birth. Here we show that whereas one of the missense substitutions appears fixed among Neandertals, the other substitution as well as the Alu insertion were polymorphic among Neandertals. We show that two Neandertal haplotypes carrying the PGR gene entered the modern human population and that present-day carriers of the Neandertal haplotypes express higher levels of the receptor. In a cohort of present-day Britons, these carriers have more siblings, fewer miscarriages and less bleeding during early pregnancy suggesting that it promotes fertility. This may explain the high frequency of the Neandertal progesterone receptor alleles in modern human populations.

Svante Pääbo, Janet Kelso, Hugo Zeberg.
The Neandertal Progesterone Receptor.
Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2020; DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msaa119

Copyright: ©2020 The Author(s).
Published open access by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.
Reprinted under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (CC BY 4.0)

Although some of the claimed benefits we supposedly got from our cousin species as we migrated up into the hostile northern latitudes, have been disputed, there appears to be little doubt that we benefited from their better pregnancy protection genes. Creationists now need to explain why, if their creator is so against abortions, he gave women such poorly designed pregnancy-protecting genes and Neanderthals superior ones.

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