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Human intelligence

MICROCEPHALIN (MCPH1)

What’s in news?

Chinese scientists have put human brain genes in monkey and they found, they may be smarter than the humans.

Key data’s:

  • This is the first attempt to understand the evolution of human cognition using a transgenic monkey model.
  • The experiment proved, several transgenic macaque monkeys with extra copies of a human gene suspected of playing a role in shaping human intelligence.
  • Human intelligence evolution was the result of a sprint that started millions of years ago, leading to ever bigger brains and new abilities. 
  • According to their findings, there wasn’t a difference in brain size. The modified monkeys did better on a memory test involving colours and block pictures, and their brains also took longer to develop—as those of human children do.
  • MCPH1, or microcephalin. Not only did the gene’s sequence differ between humans and apes, but babies with damage to microcephalin are born with tiny heads, providing a link to brain size.

Microcephalin:

  • Microcephalin (MCPH1) is a gene that is expressed during fetal brain development. Certain mutations in MCPH1, when homozygous, cause primary microcephaly, a severely diminished brain. 
  • Hence it has been assumed that variants have a role in brain development, but in normal individuals no effect on mental ability or behavior has yet been demonstrated in either this or another similarly studied microcephaly gene, ASPM. 
  • However, an association has been established between normal variation in brain structure as measured with MRI (i.e., primarily cortical surface area and total brain volume) and common genetic variants within both the MCPH1 gene and another similarly studied microcephaly gene, CDK5RAP2.
  • Microcephalin proteins contain the following three domains:
    • N-terminalBRCT domain
    • Central microcephalin protein domain
    • C-terminalBRCT domain
  • MCPH1 is expressed in the fetal brain, in the developing forebrain, and on the walls of the lateral ventricles. Cells of this area divide, producing neurons that migrate to eventually form the cerebral cortex.

https://www.iasipstnpsc.in/nbrc-researchers-decipher-how-zika-virus-causes-microcephaly/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcephalin

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613277/chinese-scientists-have-put-human-brain-genes-in-monkeysand-yes-they-may-be-smarter/

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