Researchers at Duke University injected a mouse embryo with a DNA sequence called HARE5, a gene activity regulator, which has in turn increased the size of the mouse embryo’s brain.
The study was published in the journal Current Biology.
The researchers not only injected the embryo with human DNA, they also injected it with genetic code from chimpanzees, our closest relatives. Humans share around 95 percent of their genetic code with chimpanzees.
When injecting the human DNA, the mouse embryo’s brain grew 12 percent larger when it was injected with chimpanzee HARE5.
Debra Silver, an assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University Medical School, was quoted by CNET as having said that she thinks they’ve “just scratched the surface” in regards to what can be gained from this type of study.
I think we’ve just scratched the surface, in terms of what we can gain from this sort of study (…) There are some other really compelling candidates that we found that may also lead us to a better understanding of the uniqueness of the human brain. (…) What’s really exciting about this was that the activity differences were detected at a critical time in brain development: when neural progenitor cells are proliferating and expanding in number, just prior to producing neurons
HARE5 is known as an enhancer, as it belongs to a group known as “human accelerated regulatory enhancers” which include HARE1 through HARE6. The enhancers are short pieces of DNA contained within every genome which controls gene activity.
The team of researchers at Duke believe that this new study could prove useful in acquiring insight into specific brain conditions which include autism and Alzheimer’s, both of which being conditions which do not affect chimpanzees.
In other DNA related animal news here on Immortal News, DNA confirmed the death of the legendary Grand Canyon wolf named “Echo,” who was accidentally killed by a hunter who mistook the wolf for a coyote.
Are you excited for the possibilities this new study might unlock?