The research results were published on the bioRxiv preprint server.
"Here we show that 2-8% of people in Eurasia carry the variant promoter region of the DPP4 gene inherited from Neanderthals. This gene encodes an enzyme that serves as a receptor for the MERS-CoV coronavirus (causing Middle East respiratory syndrome - IF) and is not currently considered a SARS-CoV-2 receptor. However, the Neanderthal variant of DPP4 doubles the risk of severe COVID-19 disease", - the study authors said.
This is an enzyme that destroys a number of biologically active peptides that are involved in several physiological systems, including the regulation of glucose metabolism. The study authors indicate that DPP4 inhibitors are used in the treatment of diabetes and, presumably, affect the severity of coronavirus infection.
Paabo and Zeberg in September were able to identify a Neanderthal haplotype cluster of six genes on the third chromosome. It is associated with a higher risk of respiratory failure in patients infected with the coronavirus, and, conversely, the protective regions on chromosomes 9 and 12, which are also inherited from Neanderthals.
Scientists have indicated that this haplotype is found in about 16% of Europeans and half of the population of South Asia, but the inhabitants of East Asia and Africa do not have these genes.
The researchers reported that the prevalence of a certain Neanderthal group of genes is especially high among the inhabitants of Bangladesh, where about 63% of the population became carriers of this haplotype.
Paleogenetic studies have shown that modern inhabitants of Eurasia inherited from 2% to 4% of genes from Neanderthals. It follows from the hypothesis of multi-regional formation of a person of modern physical appearance that all subspecies of ancient people, which served as the basis for him, are the descendants of "Homo erectus".