Razib Khan One-stop-shopping for all of my content

November 11, 2009

FOXP2 in Nature

Filed under: FOXP2,Human Evolution,Language — Razib @ 2:08 pm

Human-specific transcriptional regulation of CNS development genes by FOXP2:

…It has been proposed that the amino acid composition in the human variant of FOXP2 has undergone accelerated evolution, and this two-amino-acid change occurred around the time of language emergence in humans…However, this remains controversial, and whether the acquisition of these amino acids in human FOXP2 has any functional consequence in human neurons remains untested. Here we demonstrate that these two human-specific amino acids alter FOXP2 function by conferring differential transcriptional regulation in vitro. We extend these observations in vivo to human and chimpanzee brain, and use network analysis to identify novel relationships among the differentially expressed genes. These data provide experimental support for the functional relevance of changes in FOXP2 that occur on the human lineage, highlighting specific pathways with direct consequences for human brain development and disease in the central nervous system (CNS). Because FOXP2 has an important role in speech and language in humans, the identified targets may have a critical function in the development and evolution of language circuitry in humans.

Ed Young has a long entry on this paper, along with context.

Update: Someone on Twitter is suggesting we create a transgenic. Which direction?

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