Sialic acid binding Ig-like lectin (SIGLEC)

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Human Uniqueness Compared to "Great Apes": 
Likely Difference

SIGLECs are transmembrane cell surface receptors of the immunoglobulin superfamily that recognize and bind sialic acid. Humans have a number of unique changes in these genes, the nature of which vary among the 13 different gene versions. Changes include increased SIGLEC ligand density, gene loss, gene pseudogenization and novel protein production as a result of gene conversion. Changes specific to each SIGLEC are discussed in depth in the SIGLEC topics within the Genetics domain. 


Timing of appearance of the difference in the Hominin Lineage as a defined date or a lineage separation event. The point in time associated with lineage separation events may change in the future as the scientific community agrees upon better time estimates. Lineage separation events are defined in 2017 as:

  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and old world monkeys was 25,000 - 30,000 thousand (25 - 30 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and chimpanzees was 6,000 - 8,000 thousand (6 - 8 million) years ago
  • the emergence of the genus Homo was 2,000 thousand (2 million) years ago
  • the Last Common Ancestor (LCA) of humans and neanderthals was 500 thousand years ago
  • the common ancestor of modern humans was 100 - 300 thousand years ago

Possible Appearance: 
2,000 thousand years ago
Definite Appearance: 
100 thousand years ago
The Human Difference: 

Novel gene
Unique expression patterns
Gene deletion
Gene conversion
Amino acid sequence changes

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