Building a bigger brain: genetic bases for the evolution of the human neocortex
Gregory A Wray
Duke University, USA
Among the many morphological changes that took place during human origins, an expansion in brain volume is particularly conspicuous. My group is using computational and functional genomic approaches to identify candidate loci underlying human-specific features of brain anatomy in conjunction with mouse models and induced pluripotent stem cells to validate and understand the phenotypic consequences of mutations within those loci. We discovered an enhancer containing human lineage-specific mutations that drive elevated expression of the Wnt receptor FZD8 within neural progenitor cells during early corticogenesis, decreasing their cell cycle time, and increasing cell number and overall brain volume. We have also identified changes in lipid metabolism in adipocytes that result in increased production of diacylglycerides, which we hypothesize are essential for the greatly expanded surface area of neural- and glial cell membranes in the human brain.
Type: EBI seminar
When: Tuesday 25 April 2017; 2:00pm to 3:00pm