Passionate encounters between ancient humans and their burly cousins- the Neanderthals, may have left modern people more prone to sneezes, itches and other allergies, researchers say.
The findings suggest we have Neanderthals to thank for being able to fight off pathogens. This adds to evidence for an important role for interspecies relations in human evolution and specifically in the evolution of the innate immune system, which serves as the body’s first line of defense against infection.
Researcher Janet Kelso said that it has been found that interbreeding with archaic humans, the Neanderthals and Denisovans, has influenced the genetic diversity in present-day genomes at three innate immunity genes belonging to the human Toll-like-receptor family.
Earlier studies have shown that one to six percent of modern Eurasian genomes were inherited from ancient hominins, such as Neanderthal or Denisovans. Both new studies highlight the functional importance of this inheritance on Toll-like receptor (TLR) genes-TLR1, TLR6, and TLR10.
The study has been published in American Journal of Human Genetics.