Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Brain gene shows dramatic difference from chimp to human

21.08.2006
One of the fastest-evolving pieces of DNA in the human genome is a gene linked to brain development, according to findings by an international team of researchers published in the Aug. 17 issue of the journal Nature.

In a computer-based search for pieces of DNA that have undergone the most change since the ancestors of humans and chimps diverged, "Human Accelerated Region 1" or HAR1, was a clear standout, said lead author Katie Pollard, assistant professor at the UC Davis Genome Center and the Department of Statistics.

"It's evolving incredibly rapidly," Pollard said. "It's really an extreme case."

As a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of David Haussler at UC Santa Cruz, Pollard first scanned the chimpanzee genome for stretches of DNA that were highly similar between chimpanzees, mice and rats. Then she compared those regions between chimpanzees and humans, looking for the DNA that, presumably, makes a big difference between other animals and ourselves.

HAR1 has only two changes in its 118 letters of DNA code between chimpanzees and chickens. But in the roughly five million years since we shared an ancestor with the chimpanzees, 18 of the 118 letters that make up HAR1 in the human genome have changed.

Experiments led by Sofie Salama at UC Santa Cruz showed that HAR1 is part of two overlapping genes, named HAR1F and HAR1R. Evidence suggests that neither gene produces a protein, but the RNA produced by the HAR1 sequence probably has its own function. Most of the other genes identified by the study also fall outside protein-coding regions, Pollard said.

Structurally, the HAR1 RNA appears to form a stable structure made up of a series of helices. The shapes of human and chimpanzee HAR1 RNA molecules are significantly different, the researchers found.

RNA is usually thought of as an intermediate step in translating DNA into protein. But scientists have begun to realize that some pieces of RNA can have their own direct effects, especially in controlling other genes.

The proteins of humans and chimps are very similar to each other, but are put together in different ways, Pollard said. Differences in how, when and where genes are turned on likely give rise to many of the physical differences between humans and other primates.

Researchers at UC Santa Cruz, the University of Brussels, Belgium and University Claude Bernard in Lyon, France, showed that HAR1F is active during a critical stage in development of the cerebral cortex, a much more complicated structure in humans than in apes and monkeys. The researchers found HAR1F RNA associated with a protein called reelin in the cortex of embryos early in development. The same pattern of expression is found in both humans and rhesus monkeys, but since the human HAR1F has a unique structure, it may act in a slightly different way. Those differences may explain some of the differences between a human and chimp brain.

Andy Fell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdavis.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bolstering fat cells offers potential new leukemia treatment
17.10.2017 | McMaster University

nachricht Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes
17.10.2017 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>