Of mice and men

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Science  03 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6243, pp. 21-23
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6243.21

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Since the mid-2000s, bioinformaticists have been comparing human, mouse, and chimp genomes to figure out the genetic changes that contributed to our big brains, bipedalism, broad diet, and other traits that have made our species so successful. Although these studies have identified thousands of potentially key regions, very few have gone the distance to demonstrate the effects on function and anatomy. Unable to do those studies in people, a few teams have turned to mice, and one has shown that the human version of a piece of regulatory DNA called an enhancer leads to a 12% bigger brain and a 23% increase in how fast developing brain cells divide. That work suggests how more human-specific DNA needs to be investigated.