Researchers discover information about a gene that helps define us as humans

December 6, 2018, University of Otago
Brain organoids, or "mini-brains" growing in culture. Credit: Dr Adam O'Neill

University of Otago researchers have discovered information about a gene that sets primates—great apes and humans—apart from other mammals, through the study of a rare developmental brain disorder.

Dr. Adam O'Neill carried out the research as part of his Ph.D. at the University of Otago, under the supervision of Professor Stephen Robertson, discovering that the PLEKHG6 gene has qualities that drives aspects of brain development differently in primates compared to other species.

"Broadly speaking, this gene can be thought of as one of the genetic factors that make us human in a neurological sense," Dr. O'Neill who now works in the Department of Physiological Genomics at Ludwig Maximilian Universität in Munich, Germany, explains.

Professor Robertson says the research, just published in international journal Cell Reports, aimed to address the idea that there must be that humans have that have made our brains bigger and better functioning in some respects than other animals. However, that increased complexity could come at a cost, potentially predisposing humans to the development of a whole suite of neurological or psychiatric conditions.

"Such genes have been hard to find, but using an approach where we studied children with a certain brain malformation called periventricular nodular heterotopia, we found a 'damaged' genomic element in a child that had the attributes of such a primate specific genetic factor," he explains. In this particular condition a subset of neurons in the developing brain fail to take up their correct position resulting in a variety of symptoms including epilepsy and delayed development.

Dr. O'Neill and research collaborators from Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Germany, then set forth to test the point that the gene drives aspects of brain development that are unique to primates. Some amazing data was found using a novel approach through studying human "mini-brains" in culture. It is now possible to take a skin cell and transform it using a set of genetic tricks, so that it can be triggered to form a tiny brain-like structure in culture in the lab.

Their results showed that the particular genetic change that disabled a component of this gene (PLEKHG6) altered its ability to support the growth and proliferation of specialised stem cells in the developing brain. In addition, some of these cells also failed to migrate to their correct position in the growing "mini-brain" during the first few weeks of brain development.

Professor Robertson says it has been known for a while that these stem cells behave differently between primates/humans and other animals, but understanding what genes regulate these differences has been a mystery.

"Adam's achievement has been to show that this particular component of the PLEKHG6 gene is one such regulator that humans have 'acquired' very recently in their evolution to make their brains 'exceptional'."

Dr. O'Neill says there are very few genetic elements that are primate specific in our genome, so this discovery adds to a very short list of that, at least in one sense, make us human.

"Such an understanding positions us to better understand how a brain builds itself- knowledge that will add to our ability to design strategies to repair the damaged brain, especially early in infancy where there are still lots of around," Dr. O'Neill says.

The work also helps provide more information about the list of genes that are altered to cause this particular type of malformation.

"Personally, I also think it does underscore how it is very subtle nuanced differences that separate us from other animals. Our anthropocentrism could be a whole lot more humble," Dr. O'Neill says.

Explore further: Scientists uncover how rare gene mutation affects brain development and memory

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TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2018
"...the idea that there must be genes that humans have that have made our brains bigger and better functioning in some respects than other animals. However, that increased complexity could come at a cost, potentially predisposing humans to the development of a whole suite of neurological or psychiatric conditions."

-and where have I heard this before? Oh yeah, otto has been saying this for years.

Humans are domesticated animals, unnaturally selected over 1000s of gens for tolerance and adherence to the rigors of tribalism and intertribal war.

The demand for complexity has caused our brains to grow to their present unwieldy, delicate, and unsustainable size. The majority of human brains are flawed, leading to the impression that our individuality, our personalities, are based on something other than our own particular suite of defects and weaknesses.
Cont>
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2018
Perhaps this is why the bankrupt notion of consciousness, and of soul before it, were invented. People fear that science will some day be able to correct all the personal quirks and peculiarities that define who we are as individuals; and we will no longer be able to recognize ourselves, nor will anybody else.

Gone will be all our strategies for deception and coercion, our abilities to persuade and convince, our unique right to survive to reproduce with the mate we deserve.

If we no longer have faults, how can we prevail over others with the same absence of affliction?

If everybody is capable enough to get into princeton, then who will sweep the streets? Will everybody agree on everything? Will the notion of the personal god, the one who loves us above all others because we alone deserve it, evaporate?

Man I hope so.
Kalopin
1 / 5 (4) Dec 06, 2018
...but if you were to go by the ancient texts, Anunnaki came from Alnilam, Olmecs arrived from SiriusB, and as there are several others, these interstellar travelers were mining minerals...
...their investment was destroyed by an ancient cataclysm #13kya, then came another catastrophe 10.5kya, bunch more disasters on different scale...
[...explains DNA, Rh-...:-]

...leaving cluelessness, devolution, collective amnesia, just a bunch of religious fanaticism, with no idea as to the science, history, technologies, from an entire lost era on this planet, and the great civilizations of the highly diverse age of the Pleistocene...
...then study the geography, right?..
rrwillsj
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 06, 2018
Otto you are going to have to strive harder if you want to evolve to Human status.

You will definitely need to make an extra effort to be worthy of which ever woman settles for a relationship with you.

And by&by the way, I'm declaring it official. You have lost your prominence as Chief Crazyloon to Kaliope.

As a consolation prize?
I will let you keep the bespoke, ceremonial straight-jacket & the aluminum tophat as a souvenir!

He wants sequins on his?
{roll my eyes}
Kalopin
1 / 5 (4) Dec 06, 2018
...well Otto, there's your answer, "... who will sweep the streets?.." rrwillsj, you should listen to the ghost, he makes a good point...
...as this is a cyclical process, a certain "time frame" when the dynamo weakens and excessive wobble on axis occurs...

...but, this planet's inhabitants were way more advanced previously, without all the drilling, fracking, removing/displacing so much pressure, weight, volume, along with ice melt, from upper latitudes toward the equator...
...
...anyways, after cataclysm, DNA devolves/integrates, Rh- spread out, Basque moved to Spain, Berbers to Africa, many went further in search for survivors, assess damage,..., ...became "Clovis"/Solutrean...
...2500yrs later, comet hit Hudson bay, wipes out all the newly built low-lying cities...
...eventually Vikings, Mississippians, [gentle giants] Chickasaw, then a meteor takes out most all their warriors Dec16, 1811...

Olmec forefathers to Dogon, Mandig-shi, Kalifunami, Washitaw, Choco...
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Dec 07, 2018
...well Otto, there's your answer, "... who will sweep the streets?.." rrwillsj, you should listen to the ghost, he makes a good point...
I suppose brilliant street sweepers will quickly invent automated street sweeper machines to replace them.

BTW willis the psychopath is turned off and he ain't never getting turned on again. I got tired of stumbling over his rot in every thread.
rrwillsj
4 / 5 (4) Dec 07, 2018
Oh otto, you keep promising & yet there you always are like a bad vp penny!

Yes kalliope, street sweeper, an honest profession at least.

While you skulk in alleyways hissing at passerby's. "Hey buddy!" Flashing open your coat to display rge salacious photos of alien porn.

"Yah wanna buy some dirty pics? I got Alnilam doing anal. Very provocative posing by Green Orion slave girls, Siriusly dirty pics of Atlanteans getting pegged by Lemurians!"

"I also, for you a low, low price!
I gotta jenuwhine theosophist supernear group photo. Of the crew, in snazzy SS uniforms, standing in front of their flying saucer. Taken when they landed at their secret base in the Hollow Earth."

kal suddenly looks over the perv's shoulder. "Run for it! electrowooman! The beat flatfoot is coming this way!"
torbjorn_b_g_larsson
4 / 5 (4) Dec 07, 2018
Humans are domesticated animals, unnaturally selected over 1000s of gens for tolerance and adherence to the rigors of tribalism and intertribal war.

The demand for complexity has caused our brains to grow to their present unwieldy, delicate, and unsustainable size.


There is no evidence for any of that (except weak evidence that we may be *self*-domesticated).
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Dec 08, 2018
"Self-domestication is the process of adaptation of wild animals to humans, without direct human selective breeding of the animals. The biological processes in the evolution of humans and human culture are also referred to by the term "self-domestication"."

"Gregory Stock, director of the UCLA School of Medicine... describes self-domestication as a process which "... mirrors our domestication [of animals] ... we have transformed ourselves through a similar process of self-selection ... our transformation has been primarily cultural, but it has almost certainly had a biological component."

Tribalism and human devt:
http://rint.recht...rid2.htm

-And, re the article:

"that increased complexity could come at a cost, potentially predisposing humans to the development of a whole suite of neurological or psychiatric conditions."

-Do a search, read what the experts have to say, and argue with them. Theres lots of evidence for all of it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Dec 08, 2018
Heres something interesting

"The study, published in the science journal PLOS ONE, compared the genomes of modern humans to those of several domesticated species and their wild animal type, in order to look for overlapping genes that were associated with domestication traits, such as docility or a gracile physiognomy. The results showed a statistically significant number of genes associated with domestication which overlapped between domestic animals and modern humans, but not with their wild equals, like Neanderthals."
https://www.scien...0041.htm

-in conjunction with the above article.
rrwillsj
not rated yet Dec 08, 2018
In my opinion, when the researchers dig deeper. Those overlapping genes will be traced to shared diseases. As intimately as we Humans have lived with our domesticated animals? Even non-lethal contagions would cross the species line.

A couple of concurrent articles on Phys.org. About new discoveries in tracing the history of the varieties of Bubonic Plague.
edicalxpress.com/news/2018-12-approach-plague.html
https://phys.org/...hic.html

What surprised me the most?
That a lethal disease such as the Bubonic Plague was traced back to innocuous microbes. That it was a series of inter-actions with Humans in our prehistory, that mutated the germs from relatively harmless to pandemic lethal.

It seems to me a combination of domesticated animal farming within burgeoning urban sprawl & long-distance commerce, especially the fur trade resulted in the historical Plagues.

Kalopin
not rated yet Dec 09, 2018
"...- brace yourself for this one - Mike Baillie (yeah, a real scientist and not a crackpot), is saying that the Black Death, one of the most deadly pandemics in human history, said to have killed possibly two thirds of the entire population of Europe, not to mention millions all over the planet, probably wasn't Bubonic Plague but was rather Death By Comet(s)! .."
https://www.sott....nnection

...why does everyone keep forgetting to mention the extraterrestrial sources?..
...extremophiles, microbes coming in on meteors from comets, incased in spin ice, charged particles, vitrifying sand, molten rock, impacting in cold winters, such as the one on Dec 16, 1811, during the Daulton GSM...
...the main factors to bring forth evolution, though many times, only through devolution, [...kinda like some [devolved] genetics have displayed, on this thread..,;-]]]]]

...as every habitable world contains a variety of universal life.:-]
rrwillsj
not rated yet Dec 09, 2018
Oh kaliope, you are earning your pseudonym.

But, lets play the game of panspermia fantasy.

So, how did those germs get out of the gravity well of their original planet & away from the gravity well of the host star?
Flapping their little wings?
Rowing REAL hard?
"Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!"
Huff & Puff?
"Way!Hey! Blow the Man down!"

To date, what we know of the dozen or so Rocky Worlds of our Solar System. Only one is definitely proven to have sustainably evolved Life.
If you have to ask which one... You're dumber than a fence post!

Since your average comet or other space debris tends to hit the Earth's atmosphere at a velocity of better than 10,000 Km . At temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun.
While producing shockwaves both externally, crushing the atmosphere ahead of it.
& internally damaging or even destroying the incoming structure.

After all that, some alien bug is going to come in & displace the trillions of microbes that evolved here?
Kalopin
1 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2018
[-;OMG!;-]2neutron stars just collided in the vicinity, picked up on interferometers and put in the view of MANY telescopes Aug17,2017, Mars was hit Sept11no activity from Sun!has been sending #shockwave followed by #debrisfield25days apart[rotation of this star]ever since, next impact Dec17th...

...uncreative evolutionists/devolved creationists can't/won't begin to understand what occurs during an explosion, even though all exist within one, traveling/spinning within the vortex of a fiery comet's plasma tail...

...every object surrounding this #kilonova is experiencing a #shockdynamics #massaccretion event, which is the cause for the uptick in tectonic activity and all the climatological disruptions...
...these explosions blast near planets apart, instantly vaporizing oceans, scattering lithospheres, mantles, liquid metals, mostly leaving the iron cores, all to be sent out and find new homes...
...along with all the much higher energy cosmic rays, matter/metals, microbes-LIFE!
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Dec 09, 2018
Oh kaliope, you are earning your pseudonym.

But, lets play the game of panspermia fantasy.
...
After all that, some alien bug is going to come in & displace the trillions of microbes that evolved here?

You forget we exist in a universe of infinite possibility, with almost infinite Probability...
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Dec 09, 2018
More tribalism in the news

"Why Smart People Are Vulnerable to Putting TRIBE Before Truth
Science literacy is important, but without the parallel trait of "science curiosity," it can lead us astray"

"But given what positions on climate change have now come to signify about one's group allegiances, adopting the "wrong" position in interactions with her peers could rupture bonds on which she depends heavily for emotional and material well-being. Under these pathological conditions, she will predictably use her reasoning not to discern the truth but to form and persist in beliefs characteristic of her group, a tendency known as "identity-protective cognition."

"if someone does enjoy special proficiency... she'll use that skill to forge even stronger links between what she believes and who she is...
https://blogs.sci...e-truth/

-IOW the smarter you are the dumber you get.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Dec 09, 2018
We see these tendencies every day here at physorg. AGWites and trump haters routinely forgive nonsense from people like scheide and greenonions because they rely on their support. They fail to scrutinize posts for facts because they themselves often post nonsense in order to win rather than discern the truth.
Osiris1
not rated yet Dec 09, 2018
We should note that this finding grew out of a study of crazy folks. It was a primate specific gene so must be in ALL of us, not only defective members. Se we should look for it in 'normal people' to find more 'normal' versions of this gene. This is like the finding an isomer and 'normalizing' it when IT is only one of many otther isomers of the same compound or gene. One or more may be 'normal' versions, and the one found in the above patient is likely an 'abnromal' version. All come from our primordial ape ancestry before we here made fully human 13000 years or so by bioengineering by visitors to our world at that time operating out of a lab that our legends call the Garden of Eden. Some of their work did not take to make sure our Nishamas (soul carriers) were up to quality. That is where the 'Lilith' legends come from. Lilith probably a proto Eve. Maybe she got away from the lab. Discussion welcome, trolls not.
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2018
kaliope, otto & osiris. Thank you for making my best point for me. You are all illegal aliens & overdue to be deported back to whichever bizarro world you three stooges for putin fascism had escaped from.

Don't miss the bus, boys.
Captain Stumpy
not rated yet Dec 09, 2018
@otto

not everybody votes the same way

there are no criteria for the voting process which is why rc, eggy, cd and people like that get 5 stars regardless of the bullsh*t and or pseudoscience content they post
rrwillsj
1 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2018
Captain. Oh! My Captain...
Another of your thoughtful. reasoned comments. Do you realize how annoying those are?

However, you made a low probability assumption. That someone else, random readers perhaps? Were awarding five stars to the cranks.

The entire merit system has been broken since the 90's. It has become a corrupt form of online masturbation to prop up the pitiful egos of the desperate & the hucksters selling quackery.

That is why I ask people to please do not star nor heart me. My bloated ego neither desires nor seeks affirmation from such infantile gestures.

Whatever useless "criteria" there may be for the voting system?
I doubt that those stars add any value to either the rare rational discussion or the common flame wars.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2018
@rrwillsj
However, you made a low probability assumption
I didn't make any assumption, so not sure where you're going with this
That someone else, random readers perhaps? Were awarding five stars to the cranks
on very rare occasion this happens
more often than not it's a certain set of people awarding the 5-stars to the other crackpots

Sometimes these ratings come from themselves in the form of sock-puppets (zeph had over a hundred used for voting at one point)
The entire merit system has been broken
so long as there is a rating system that requires individual assessment it will always be broken because of subjectivity

it's no different than asking someone their opinion

it's a good thing, usually
it degrades when the ignorant attempt to chime in without actually knowing WTF they're talking about all while promoting their latest ideology (benji, rc, any eu supporter, eggy and the religious fanatics, etc)
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2018
@rrwills
I doubt that those stars add any value to either the rare rational discussion or the common flame wars
actually, the rating system has nothing to do with rational discourse

the rating system is in place so you can use the slider at the top of the comments section to eliminate the bullsh*t from being visible, which is why it's abuse by the trolls and the *refusal* of scientifically literate posters to rate is such a problem here on PO

uprating the literate is a means to keep the good science posts visible to those who may need it (schools use the sliders)

I tend to up-rate certain people a lot, even if I disagree with what is being said, mostly because they make me think differently. this includes Otto (when he's not blinded by misinformation)
rrwillsj
3 / 5 (2) Dec 10, 2018
Ah, Captain, you are correct.
I should have been more explicit & less polite.

I specifically mean that the cranks & hucksters are using sockpuppets to boost their fake ratings.

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify my denunciation of such fraudulent practices.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Dec 11, 2018
Otto (when he's not blinded by misinformation)
-And if that ever happens you'll let me know, right?
Captain Stumpy
not rated yet Dec 13, 2018
Otto (when he's not blinded by misinformation)
-And if that ever happens you'll let me know, right?

yup

and I have let you know

it doesn't mean you will pay any attention to it, though

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