Divergence between samples of chimpanzee and human DNA sequences is 5%, counting indels

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Oct 15;99(21):13633-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.172510699. Epub 2002 Oct 4.


Five chimpanzee bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) sequences (described in GenBank) have been compared with the best matching regions of the human genome sequence to assay the amount and kind of DNA divergence. The conclusion is the old saw that we share 98.5% of our DNA sequence with chimpanzee is probably in error. For this sample, a better estimate would be that 95% of the base pairs are exactly shared between chimpanzee and human DNA. In this sample of 779 kb, the divergence due to base substitution is 1.4%, and there is an additional 3.4% difference due to the presence of indels. The gaps in alignment are present in about equal amounts in the chimp and human sequences. They occur equally in repeated and nonrepeated sequences, as detected by REPEATMASKER (http://ftp.genome.washington.edu/RM/RepeatMasker.html).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes, Artificial, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Rearrangement
  • Humans
  • Pan troglodytes / genetics*
  • Sequence Alignment / statistics & numerical data
  • Sequence Deletion
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA