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Pigs share 98% of human genes misleading: Australian scientist

01-03-2011 17:30 BJT

CANBERRA, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) - The sheer fact that pigs and humans are mammals means that we share some genes, but it is simplistic to put an actual figure on the amount of genetic material we have in common, Australian scientist said on Monday.

ABC Science reported on Sunday that human has a lot in common with pigs, and we are both omnivorous mammals that gain weight easily and are susceptible to the flu for starters.

However, according to animal geneticist Professor Chris Moran from Australia's University of Sydney's Faculty of Veterinary Science, broad comparisons by saying 98 percent of human genes are similar to a chimpanzee tend to be a little bit misleading.

All living organisms have genetic information encoded in deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), divided into units called genes. Information is transferred from the genes via a chemical called ribonucleic acid (RNA). Some RNA is translated into chains of amino-acid that make up proteins, the building blocks of every living cell.

Moran said the amount of genetic material we share with other species depends upon what you compare.

"Scientists have discovered about 20,000 mammalian genes that encode proteins with similar basic functions," ABC Science quoted Moran as saying. "So if you compare the protein-encoding portion of our DNA, we have a lot in common with a lot of mammals."

Professor Moran said mammals have most of the same genes for similar biochemical and physiological functions, and if we look at the details of the genes, there will be differences between them, but they will still be doing the same kind of function.

"It's a little bit like having a Ford or a Holden -- it's still obviously a car but a slightly different version," he added.

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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