Standard Article

Chimpanzee Genome

Molecular Biology of Specific Organisms

  1. Ingo Ebersberger

Published Online: 15 SEP 2006

DOI: 10.1002/3527600906.mcb.200300089

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

How to Cite

Ebersberger, I. 2006. Chimpanzee Genome. Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. .

Author Information

  1. Institute for Bioinformatics, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2006


On the basis of comparative molecular studies, chimpanzees are the closest living relatives of humans. On the level of their genomes, this is reflected in a nearly identical chromosomal organization and an average DNA sequence difference only about 10 times higher than that between any two humans. This renders the comparison of chimpanzees and humans, and the resulting catalog of their genetic differences, suitable to gain relevant insights into human evolution and human disease. The collection of genetic differences between both species as a whole comprises an ideal data set to analyze how DNA sequences change over time on a high-resolution scale. Of further interest are those differences that are located in the functional regions of the genome. They form the genetic basis of the distinct biological properties of humans and chimpanzees and thus might bear an answer to the question “What makes us human?” More practically, these differences provide access to the molecular factors that account for the different disease spectra in humans and chimpanzees, and might, therefore, open up new therapeutic approaches to fight human disease.

The relevance of chimpanzees as a subject in evolutionary and biomedical research is obvious. However, their close relationship to humans demands ethical guidelines that clearly distinguish chimpanzees from common genetic model organisms in laboratory research.


  • Genetic Distance;
  • Great Apes;
  • Lineage Sorting;
  • Monophyly;
  • Phenotype;
  • Phylogeny