The Mitonuclear Dimension of Neanderthal and Denisovan Ancestry in Modern Human Genomes.
Some human populations interbred with Neanderthals and Denisovans, resulting in substantial contributions to modern-human genomes. Therefore, it is now possible to use genomic data to investigate mechanisms that shaped historical gene flow between humans and our closest hominin relatives. More generally, in eukaryotes, mitonuclear interactions have been argued to play a disproportionate role in generating reproductive isolation. There is no evidence of mtDNA introgression into modern human populations, which means that all introgressed nuclear alleles from archaic hominins must function on a modern-human mitochondrial background. Therefore, mitonuclear interactions are also potentially relevant to hominin evolution. We performed a detailed accounting of mtDNA divergence among hominin lineages and used population-genomic data to test the hypothesis that mitonuclear incompatibilities have preferentially restricted the introgression of nuclear genes with mitochondrial functions. We found a small but significant underrepresentation of introgressed Neanderthal alleles at such nuclear loci. Structural analyses of mitochondrial enzyme complexes revealed that these effects are unlikely to be mediated by physically interacting sites in mitochondrial and nuclear gene products. We did not detect any underrepresentation of introgressed Denisovan alleles at mitochondrial-targeted loci, but this may reflect reduced power because locus-specific estimates of Denisovan introgression are more conservative. Overall, we conclude that genes involved in mitochondrial function may have been subject to distinct selection pressures during the history of introgression from archaic hominins but that mitonuclear incompatibilities have had, at most, a small role in shaping genome-wide introgression patterns, perhaps because of limited functional divergence in mtDNA and interacting nuclear genes.