Wall Lab

Evolutionary Genomics of Enamel Thickness Iin Hominoids

The focus of this research is to document the genomic variation associated with the thick enamel phenotype that distinguishes humans from other extant hominoids. We are comparing sequence similarity in eight genes and their upstream regulatory regions. These genes code for the structural extracellular matrix proteins and the enamel proteases involved in amelogenesis. The thick enamel phenotype of modern humans differs dramatically from the thin enamel of Pan and Gorilla. We hypothesize that the evolution of thick enamel in humans is linked to genetic changes in the regulatory regions of genes coding for enamel matrix proteins or the associated proteases.

Recently, we reported the early results of this work at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists Meeting in Portland, Oregon (link here to pdf of poster) and at the Biology of Genomes Conference in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Collaborators on this project are Julie Horvath, Greg Wray, Jukka Jernvall, Gowri Ramachandran, Olivier Fedrigo, B.J. Nielsen, Courtney Babbitt, Anthony Moore, and Lisa Pfefferle.


  • Horvath et al. (2012a,b)