Key brain gene shows evolution in humans

Dec 12, 2005

Duke University researchers say they've discovered the first brain regulatory gene that shows clear evidence of evolution from lower primates to humans.

They said the evolution of humans might well have depended in part on hyperactivation of the gene, called prodynorphin, or PDYN, that plays critical roles in regulating perception, behavior and memory.

They reported that, compared with lower primates, humans possess a distinctive variant in a regulatory segment of the prodynorphin gene, which is a precursor molecule for a range of regulatory proteins called "neuropeptides." This variant increases the amount of prodynorphin produced in the brain.

While the researchers do not understand the physiological implications of the activated PDYN gene in humans, they said their finding offers an important and intriguing piece of a puzzle of the mechanism by which humans evolved from lower primates. They also said the discovery of the first evolutionarily selected gene is likely only the beginning of a new pathway of exploring how the pressure of natural selection influenced evolution of other genes.

The study appears in the December issue of the Public Library of Science.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Outside CEOs could rejuvenate struggling businesses

Related Stories

Evolutionary novelties in vision

Mar 27, 2015

A new study from SciLifeLab at Uppsala University published in PLOS ONE shows that genes crucial for vision were multiplied in the early stages of vertebrate evolution and acquired distinct functions leading to the sophis ...

New thesis maps the origin of colour vision

Mar 26, 2015

Roughly 500 million years ago, the genome of vertebrate animals' early ancestors doubled in size, not just once but twice. This meant that suddenly there were several gene copies which were free to develop new functions. ...

How did the chicken cross the sea?

Mar 26, 2015

It may sound like the makings of a joke, but answering the question of how chickens crossed the sea may soon provide more than just a punch line.

Recommended for you

Outside CEOs could rejuvenate struggling businesses

3 hours ago

CEOs hired from outside a company tend to spend more money on research and development, while CEOs hired from within are likely to make large, strategic acquisitions, new research from the University of Missouri ...

Complete camel skeleton unearthed in Austria

6 hours ago

Archaeologists working on a rescue excavation uncovered a complete camel skeleton in Tulln, Lower Austria. The camel, which was dated to the time of the Second Ottoman War in the 17th century, most likely ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.