Single Molecular Event Linked to Mammalian Brain Development
How did humans develop larger brains than our ancestors?
Researchers at the Donnelly Centre for Cellular & Biomolecular research in Toronto have just discovered that mammalian brain development may be linked to a single molecular event that started an evolutionary chain-reaction, leading all the way up to humans. A genetic mutation in protein PTBP1, responsible for neurogenesis (the development of neurons), is said to be the likely precursor to an event set-off by something called ‘alternate splicing’ which occurs when neural proteins are assembled by our DNA.
According to these findings, the greater the amount of ‘alternate splicing’ events which occur, the further the development of brain region size and function.
What could this mean for future neuroresearch?
Implications of this finding could spell a greater understanding for various morphological differences in brain-size throughout mammalian and human development, shedding light on various diseases and neurological disorders.
Alternately, this could perhaps generate a new host of ethical concerns in the topic of future human genetic modification, or similarly, with most recent lab-grown human brains.
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