A gene implicated in speech regulates connectivity of the developing brain
Foxp2, a gene involved in speech and language, helps regulate the wiring of neurons in the brain, according to a study which will be published on July 7th in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics. The researchers identified this functional link by first identifying the major targets of Foxp2 in developing brain tissue and then analysing the function of relevant neurons.
Foxp2 codes for a regulatory protein that provides a window into unusual aspects of brain function. In 2001, scientists discovered that mutations of the human gene cause a rare form of speech and language disorder. The finding triggered a decade of intense research into the human gene and corresponding versions found in other species for example, it has been shown to affect vocal imitation in songbirds, and learning of rapid movement sequences in mice.
In the PLoS Genetics study, the researchers, led by Dr. Sonja C. Vernes and Dr. Simon E. Fisher (The Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford), gained insights into the functions of Foxp2 within the developing brain by exploiting its role as a genetic dimmer switch, turning up or down the amount of product made by other genes. In their large-scale screening of embryonic brain tissue, they identified many novel targets regulated by Foxp2. Remarkably, many of these targets were known to be important for connectivity of the central nervous system. The team went on to show that changing Foxp2 levels in neurons impacted on the length and branching of neuronal projections, a key route for modulating the wiring of the developing brain.
"Studies like this are crucial for building bridges between genes and complex aspects of brain function" says Dr. Fisher, who is also director of a newly established Language and Genetics department at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, The Netherlands. The research was carried out with mouse models, since they can be used to comprehensively analyse genetic networks in a way that remains difficult in the human brain. However, "the current study provides the most thorough characterisation of Foxp2 target pathways to date," notes Dr. Fisher. "It offers a number of compelling new candidate genes that could be investigated in people with language problems."
More information: Vernes SC, Oliver PL, Spiteri E, Lockstone HE, Puliyadi R, et al. (2011) Foxp2 Regulates Gene Networks Implicated in Neurite Outgrowth in the Developing Brain. PLoS Genet 7(7): e1002145. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002145
Provided by Public Library of Science
- A gene implicated in human language affects song learning in songbirds Dec 04, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Genetic study provides new insights into molecular basis of language development Nov 05, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Bats add their voice to the FOXP2 story Sep 19, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Why can't chimps speak? Study links evolution of single gene to human capacity for language Nov 11, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Mouse Model Provides Clues to Human Language Development Jun 24, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Northwestern University scientists have shown a gene involved in neurodegenerative disease also plays a critical role in the proper function of the circadian clock.
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
Informed consent is the backbone of patient care. Genetic testing has long required patient consent and patients have had a "right not to know" the results. However, as 21st century medicine now begins to use the tools of ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | 5 / 5 (1) | 3 |
Ethicists provide framework supporting new recommendations on reporting incidental findings in gene sequencing
In a paper published in Science Express, a group of experts led by bioethicists in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine provide a framework for the new American College of Medical Geneti ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
The use of genome-wide analysis (GWA), where the entirety of an individual's DNA is examined to look for the genomic mutations or variants which can cause health problems is a massively useful technology for diagnosing disease. ...
Genetics May 16, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
DNA databases might help identify victims of crime and human trafficking, but how do we safeguard the personal privacy of innocent victims and family members? A new report online May 15 in the Cell Press journal Trends in ...
Genetics May 15, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
An increasing number of U.S. children are experiencing gastrointestinal issues that require interventions to resolve, according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW).
14 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
The latest makeover to a massive psychiatric tome honored by some, reviled by others and even called the "Bible" of mental disorders is being released Saturday with a host of new changes.
11 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
A new case of the deadly coronavirus has been detected in Saudi Arabia where 15 people have already died after contracting it, the health ministry announced on Saturday on its Internet website.
12 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Big names in medicine are set to give an upbeat assessment of the war on AIDS on Tuesday, 30 years after French researchers identified the virus that causes the disease.
22 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
For combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, 'fear circuitry' in the brain never rests
Chronic trauma can inflict lasting damage to brain regions associated with fear and anxiety. Previous imaging studies of people with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, have shown that these brain regions can over-or ...
23 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
A ground-breaking advance in colonoscopy technology signals the future of colorectal care, according to research presented today at Digestive Disease Week(DDW). Additional research focuses on optimizing the minimal withdrawal ...
14 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0