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Biologists have found the gene that caused the human brain to evolve

Biologists have found the gene that caused the human brain to evolve

A hand holding the artifical human brain model with blue sky in the background

(ORDO NEWS) — The ARHGAP11B gene, which is present only in humans and stimulates the development of a new cerebral cortex, could have played an important role in the evolutionary separation of humans and monkeys, experts from the Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics. Max Planck in Germany. They told about this in an article in the journal EMBO Reports.

New cerebral cortex (neocortex) – areas of the cerebral cortex that are almost undeveloped in lower mammals, and in humans they form the main part of the cortex and are responsible for higher nervous functions, including conscious thinking and speech.

Since research on great apes is prohibited in Europe for ethical reasons, scientists have grown organelles from stem cells – three-dimensional cellular structures a few millimeters in size – of the brain of humans and chimpanzees.

The introduction of the ARHGAP11B gene into the organoid of the chimpanzee brain led to the active formation of stem cells intended for the formation of the neocortex, as well as an increase in the number of neurons in general.

Blocking the ARHGAP11B gene in human brain organelles caused a decrease in the number of stem cells for neocortex formation to the same level as in chimpanzee brain organelles.

In earlier experiments, the same group of scientists showed that ARHGAP11B can enlarge the brains of primates. However, it was unclear whether this gene plays a role in the evolutionary increase in the human neocortex.

“We were able to show that ARHGAP11B plays a critical role in the development of the neocortex during human evolution.

Given the important role of ARHGAP11B, it can be assumed that some malformations of the neocortex may be caused by mutations in this gene,” the authors concluded.


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