Wednesday, 15 Oct, 2008 Science

Mutation Awarded Humans With Thought, Scientists Say


Despite the fact that genetically people and chimpanzees vary by only 1.2 percent, we have a lot of differences in terms of mental and linguistic capabilities.

Scientists revealed that a certain form of neuropsin is expressed only in humans' central nervous system. Neuropsin is a protein that is responsible for learning and memory. Researchers in their study found that the huge difference between humans and nonhuman primates originated about 5 million years ago.

Together with his colleagues, Dr. Bing Su of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, located in Kunming, China, observed the DNA of humans and a number of species of apes and monkeys. In their latest research scientists tested the expression of type II neuropsin in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of chimpanzees and orangutans, two most often met ape species. They discovered that type II neuropsin was not present in these two species. Previously they found that it was not present in lesser apes and Old World monkeys.

Because chimpanzees deviated from human ancestors somewhere around 5 million years ago and orangutans about 14 million years ago, the discovery shows that type II is a mutation specific only to humans and it originated comparatively recently.

In future studies scientists will make a more profound analysis of the biological function of type II neuropsin in humans. They hope to figure out the genetic basis that stands behind the traits that separated humans from nonhuman primates.

The findings of the study were published online in Human Mutation, the official journal of the Human Genome Variation Society.

Source: Daily Galaxy

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