Brain Evolution

The genetic underpinnings of brain size

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Science  17 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6245, pp. 280-281
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6245.280-g

Angiopoietin-1 expression varies with brain size in guppies

PHOTO: © ARCO IMAGES GMBH/ALAMY

What genes and selective processes lead to an increase in brain size and intelligence is one of the greatest questions in human evolution. Chen et al. present findings in fish that may help us understand this process. When guppies were selected for brain size, expression differences were observed in the Angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) gene. These differences seem to be due to noncoding variation; furthermore, lowering Ang-1 expression in the zebrafish also affected brain size. On the basis of these results, the authors suggest that further study of Ang-1 may help provide insight into the evolution of brain size and cognition in other species, including humans.

Proc. R. Soc. London Ser. B 10.1098/rspb.2015.0872 (2015).

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